A solution for MidCoast Water: Dissolve it.


dougkTuesday, 10 January 2017 - 9:24am

At an extraordinary meeting of MidCoast Council held on 21 December 2016 it was resolved that MidCoast County Council (which trades as MidCoast Water) should be dissolved and merged as a separate business unit within MidCoast Council. This resolution is a recommendation to the Minister for Local Government.

After the merger of Great Lakes, Greater Taree and Gloucester councils the existence of MidCoast Water was clearly an anomaly. County Councils provide a structure through which multiple councils can work together to manage services shared by all. MidCoast Council was now the sole council responsible for MidCoast Water.

Administrator Turner's statement on this issue at the meeting included the following:

In relation to this item, it should be noted that the recommendation, which I accept, does not merge, dissolve or in any other way, at this time affect MidCoast County Council trading as MidCoast Water.

The recommendation is to the Minister for Local Government to consider a dissolution of MidCoast Water not a merger, which is a different local government procedure. If the Minister acts on the recommendation there would be the creation of a Water and Sewerage business unit within MidCoast Council to provide water and sewerage services to the Council area.

If the Minister determines to consider the recommendation the proposal will be put on public exhibition by the Minister through the Office of Local Government for 28 days at a time to be determined by the Minister.

Any member of the public can make a submission for or against the proposal during that period of time and the Minister is obliged under the Local Government Act to consider those submissions before making any determination.

The reports from both the MidCoast Council and MidCoast Water on this matter are substantial and set out reasons why the two councils have decided to refer the matter to the Minister. In the report of MidCoast Water on the proposal it spells out considerable savings to be made should the Minister ultimately adopt the recommendation. These savings could exceed $3 million and this may assist in mitigating water and sewerage pricing pressures in the short and medium term.

However today is not the time to comment extensively on the possible outcome of the options as that would be to comment before the statutory exhibition and submission period.

But it is necessary however to say something had to be done in relation to the status of MidCoast Water since the merger of Greater Taree City Council, Gloucester Shire Council and Great Lakes Council. To do nothing was not an option.


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