Assessment criteria on Kyogle was found to be flawed
UPDATE 2.45PM: TENS of NSW councils were deemed "unfit" - including Kyogle Council - after being judged according to a "flawed" measure, according to the findings of the parliamentary inquiry into the State Government's Fit for the Future local government reforms.
The findings, released today, found that the "scale and capacity" criterion which Kyogle was failed on "should not have been included in the Fit for the Future assessment criteria".
Kyogle was failed on the measure because it had 450 too few residents. It needed 10,000 to pass the "scale and capacity" measure but only had 9550 residents.
Last week Kyogle Council received a letter from Local Government Minister Paul Toole described by mayor Danielle Mulholland as generic "fluff".
Cr Mulholland said the letter was "not really giving us any direction, not really giving us a framework to go forward from here".
"The goal posts keep changing, and that's just irritating," she said.
Following from Monday's 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.
INITIAL: KYOGLE's hopes to remain free of the shackles of amalgamation may have received a boost.
A parliamentary inquiry into local government in NSW today returned a scathing assessment of the State Government's Fit for the Future process.
The inquiry's report found many of the Fit for the Future measures which judged councils' viability to be "unreliable", according to chair, Upper House Christian Democrats MLC Paul Green.
"This committee has listened to councils and other stakeholders around the state and we were concerned that what began as a consultative approach to reform, driven by both the State Government and the sector itself, has descended into a rushed and flawed process, which has focused too much on council amalgamations," Mr Green said.
Mr Green said the report called for the government to "withdraw its statements that 71 per cent of Sydney councils and 56 per cent of regional councils are 'unfit' for the future".
"Reforming local government is nothing new, but it is vital that we get the right reforms at the right time and in the right order, if we want to get this sector back on track."
Among the 17 recommendations in the final report were that the government commit to a policy of no forced amalgamations "except in circumstances where it can be established that a council is severely financially unsustainable to the point of bankruptcy".
The report argued that the benefits of amalgamations had been "consistently overstated" by its proponents and "extensive diseconomies of scale caused by amalgamations have not been adequately explained by those same proponents".
Also, a "lack of empirical evidence to demonstrate the benefits of amalgamations lends further weight to these concerns".
The report also highlighted fears of amalgamation throughout the entire Fit for the Future process had "been very disruptive and has undermined the sector's trust from the outset."