Frustrated Kyogle Council boils over on Fit for the Future

KYOGLE mayor Danielle Mulholland has criticised what she described as a "fluff" letter from Local Government Minister Paul Toole over the council's Fit for the Future results.

The letter failed to give the council any clear advice, Cr Mulholland said.

"(It was) not really giving us a framework to go forward from here," she said.

"The goal posts keep changing, and that's just irritating."

The council has been ruled unfit by the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Authority according to the State Government's "scale and capacity" measure.

The same measure was used to fail tens of councils throughout NSW, but has been labelled "flawed" by a NSW parliamentary enquiry into the Fit for the Future process.

Kyogle is still weighing up its options, with the deadline for decision looming on November 18.

Unfit councils who refuse to amalgamate by then are threatened with losing a potential $5 million incentive from the State Government.

Following a recent extraordinary meeting, Kyogle Council has resolved to meet with Lismore and Richmond Valley councils for a second round of talks regarding a hypothetical merger scenario.

The council will then conduct a second community consultation process to see if their residents would accept a merger.

In the survey held last year, 78% of residents voted against amalgamation.

Questions have also been raised by the council on whether forced amalgamations might breach the Local Government Act.

Kyogle general manager David Tuxford said the council was seeking legal advice from other councils on whether there were protections in the Act to prevent involuntary mergers.

"We've spoken to a couple of councils which have sought legal opinions, and those opinions concur," he said.

Mr Tuxford said he had reviewed sections of the Act himself but wasn't "black and white".

"That's why probably a legal opinion does need to be sought," he said.

"There are several interpretations that could be taken."

Mr Tuxford said he saw it as a challenge to have taken on a position which might become redundant if the State Government has its way.

"I'm going to work as hard as I possibly can in the direction that the council decides to head," he said.



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