Tuesday, 29 March 2016

And you thought local government amalgamation news couldn't get any worse......

The Sydney Morning Herald, 28 March 2016:

NSW councillors have been told to reapply for their jobs, as the NSW government lays the groundwork to terminate existing councils as early as next month and begin amalgamations.

On Thursday, all councillors received a letter from the Minister for Local Government Paul Toole, telling them he was considering interim arrangements for councils until elections are held after September. He said he was looking at options of a single person acting as administrator of a new merged council, or the continuation in office of some or all of the councillors in the new larger council area.

Councillors have been ordered to  submit an expression of interest by April 15, explaining why they would be suitable for the interim council or why they are qualified to act as an administrator.

General managers and mayors are also required to apply for the jobs in the new larger councils.

This is despite the Boundaries Commission still having to report on the merger proposals, most of which are being resisted by existing councils.

Most public inquiries have finished and the delegates for each council area are preparing their reports. They will then go to the minister and to the boundaries commission. The minister then makes a decision to accept or reject the finding on the merger. But given this is the minister's blueprint, most councils expect him to forge ahead with mergers, possibly as soon at the end of April…..

To date a search of the NSW Boundaries Commission website does not list Tweed Shire Council, Ballina Shire Council, Byron Shire Council, Clarence Valley Council, Lismore City Council, Richmond Valley Council and Kyogle Council (which comprise the NSW Northern Rivers region) as being affected by this round of local government amalgamations.

However, it would be foolish of local communities to ignore the fact that some Northern Rivers mayors and general managers would favour amalgamation - seeing it as the road to increased personal incomes, greater power and wider political influence - and indeed may be quietly indicating to the Baird Government that amalgamation into a larger local government area is their preference.

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