Kyogle Council general manager Arthur Piggott.
Kyogle Council general manager Arthur Piggott.

We won't be rushed on amalgamation decision, says Kyogle GM

ANY decision by Kyogle Council to merge with Lismore City Council will not come until at least early next year.

Kyogle general manager Arthur Piggott said council initially agreed to let Lismore know by December.

But Kyogle's public consultation and internal discussions are ongoing and Mr Piggott said rushing the process would be unwise.

"The council has resolved that the focus is on our Long Term Financial Plan and whether we need to go to IPART (Independent Pricing a Rating Tribunal) for a rate pegging increase," he said.

Kyogle Council is hoping to discuss the pros and cons in detail with the Office of Local Government.

"Council won't be in the position to make a decision on mergers for quite a while," he said.

In the meantime, the council is struggling with a backlog of $48 million in works, while it aims to meet financial sustainability targets under the State Government's Fit for the Future reforms.

One option for the council is to raise rates to 22% above rate pegging by 2020, accompanied by State and Federal funding, or to 46% to allow a self-sufficient funding model.

Amalgamation is the third option and one that may be forced on Kyogle and other councils in the near future, according to recent comments by Premier Mike Baird.

Kyogle mayor Danielle Mulholland was critical of the State Government's latest stance.

"I'd really like the State Government to pick a policy and stick with it," she said.

"It's basically saying to pick up our stuff and get ready to move."

Cr Mulholland said previous polls showed about 70% of Kyogle Shire's ratepayers oppose amalgamation.

If the 22% increase is applied, extra infrastructure funding for roads, bridges and sewerage systems will be made available.

But cutbacks will include replacing Woodenbong landfill with a transfer station, the closure of at least seven old bridges and returning some roads to gravel.



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