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Amalgamate or perish

jaybeeSat, 28/02/2015 - 10:45am

Residents of Great Lakes Council area should welcome the fact that their Council is at last looking at the possibility of Merging their operations with another Council , said to be Gloucester. Whilst it is rational to have adjoining Council areas considered for Merger, this one is hard to fathom given the fact that its rates income doesnt cover its expenditure now , being an LG area without a large town nor commercial areas from which to generate rates income without unduly affecting the large number of retirees & small farmers who could argue that they are income poor & with minimal resources to cover another rates hike.

The second fact that I find interesting is that when discussing the issue with Gloucester rersidents, they thought that Maitland was their best fit as that is the direction of their travel for business. The comment seems to be that GLC wants to merge with a smaller & poorer Council so that a Major Administration building would be required to be built , one assumes in Forster for the suggested cost of A$20 Million. If that sum was borrowed & its holding cost be shared amongst rate payers of the Merged area, it could only greatly increase the cost to residents annual rates which are already high. NAC holiday home owners are presently stating that their waterfront cottages are rated above that of their residential dwellings on Sydneys North Shore Line, a high value area

The way to make Mergers work for Councils is to have it involve at least 3 Councils being fitted into one operation. That way the Gloucester situations can be absorbed painlessly & productively by say having TAREE Council involved in the merger. By putting 3 Council Administration costs into one, we then have the $ value of much of those savings available to maintain & renew infrastructure throughout the marged area. It is blatantly obvious that many Councils only achieve enough rates income to pay their staff & Councillors wages plus vehicles & other admin costs , leaving nothing or close to it to spend in their areas.The only way they can achieve anything is to receive $ handouts from the State Govt to be spent on specific items.

In an opinion poll being run by a  newspaper in our area , their figures suggest that 88% of those polled thought we should amalgamate with Port Stephens Council. I am wondering if those polled know that DEBT level of that Council which seems to have been in a state of functional disarray for close to 20 years. Im sure if they were made aware of the situation they would run a mile in the opposite direction.

Would love to see our Community discussing Merger possibilities in an informed & rational way.   JAYBEE .

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Fit for the Future is a program that the NSW State Government is currently applying to councils and which has led to the current talk of mergers. Details are at http://www.fitforthefuture.nsw.gov.au/
Of interest too may be a number of earlier government papers which assessed the viability of Councils and possible amalgamations, including: http://www.northarmcove.nsw.au/docs/TCorp-Report-Financial-Sustainabilit... (see, for example, the figure on page 37) and http://www.northarmcove.nsw.au/docs/Revitalising-Local-Government-ILGRP-... (This report recommends Gloucester look to merge with Great Lakes or Greater Taree.)

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