Tweed Shire Council will today discuss a range of options to operate more cost-effectively, including several options that would see it absorb Byron Shire Council entirely.
The amalgamation plan is one of a number being put to Tweed Council by staff as a way of saving money.
Tweed GM David Keenan told media that the council would at this stage merely be discussing ‘whether they believe there is some merit in what’s been put forward in the discussion paper’.
‘There are a number of options in there, and one of the options is to retain the status quo,’ he said to ABC yesterday.
A similar concept was flagged by Byron United (chamber of commerce) president Paul Waters back in May but was flatly rejected by Byron’s mayor Jan Barham and deputy mayor Basil Cameron.
Under current state government arrangements, councils can merge but only if the majority of councillors of both existing entities support the move.
At the time Mr Waters told Echonetdaily, ‘Economy of scale seems to work for larger councils and other council areas that have been subjected to amalgamation in Queensland and Victoria’.
But the mayor responded, ‘No doubt we need more money, but it wouldn’t solve any major issues financially and it would take away the autonomy of our residents. We have a right to be different; our reputation is built on that as well as our efforts to protect diversity in the region.’
Under current state government policy, councils can only merge if a majority of both councils support it. But at last year’s council talkfest, Destination 2036, the issue of amalgamations was raised as a way for smaller, less financially viable councils to improve their bottom lines.