Kyogle Council not forced to merge
KYOGLE residents have been given an early Christmas present by the Baird government with news the council will not be forced to merge under proposed NSW government reforms.
Mayor Danielle Mulholland said she found out Kyogle Council was no longer facing a forced merger when maps of the proposed regional and rural council mergers were released about 10.30am today.
Surprised and relieved, Cr Mulholland said she then rang the office of NSW Local Government, which confirmed Kyogle council was not staring down the barrel of forced amalgamation.
"I was frantically looking through maps and documents this morning," she said.
"It was like it was gift wrapped for us ... it was a huge relief.
"As mayor of Kyogle council I say thank you very much state government, you have clearly heard me and my community."
In September 2014 the NSW Government launched its Fit for the Future program following a three year independent review of local government.
Kyogle Council was identified as not being Fit for the Future, but councillors voted 5-4 not to merge at a meeting on November 9.
The Fit for the Future program will see 152 local councils reduced to 112, with 109 regional and rural councils being reduced to 87 through forced amalgamation, while the number of Sydney councils will be cut by merging 42 existing local government areas.
A $10 million sweetener was on offer to councils who voluntarily merged.
"The NSW government have produced a map which will be referred to the NSW boundaries commission to examine," Cr Mulholland said
"The boundaries commission will then undertake a public enquiry as required under section 255 of the Local Government Act.
"Councils who are recommended to merge will be able to make one more case as to why they shouldn't be forced to merge."
"Then the community will be consulted and they will go from there."
The closest council to the Northern Rivers identified to merge is Guyra who could be forced to merge with Armidale Dumaresq.
"For the time being every council on the Northern Rivers hasn't been identified for merging," she said.
"I do empathise with those councils who have been identified (to merge).
"There was a heavy emphasis this morning in the webinar on financial sustainability, whereas before it was about scale and capacity.
"We put our submission in and addressed scale and capacity but clearly there was a number of councils they wanted to merge."
Cr Mulholland said she had spoken to Lismore Mayor Jenny Dowell about the merger situation as she is the current president of the Northern Rivers Regional Organisation of Councils.