23.2 C
Byron Shire
August 3, 2021

Byron, Ballina ‘not merger targets’

Latest News

Interview with Ross Wilson, composer and Daddy Cool frontman

When the likes of Jimmy Barnes, Michael Gudinski and Sir Elton John call out a song as ‘one of the great Australian rock ‘n’ roll songs’, ‘one of the greatest songs of all time’, and ‘one of my favourite tracks’, then you know it was and still is, a hit.

Other News

Spice it Up: consistently good Thai

Simon Haslam You have to be doing a lot of things right consistently to run a successful restaurant in different...

Be CaféSmart about a cuppa donation for homelessness charities

Most people would be shocked to know how close to homelessness some people in the community are – some people might be very shocked to know how close they themselves are to homelessness. It doesn’t take much.

Cyclist dies in collision after refusing police request to stop – Casino

A cyclist has died following a collision with a vehicle after police asked him to stop.

I’m with you Mandy…

Dominica Coulthurst, Knockrow I’m with you Mandy... all the way. Thanks so much for your Soapbox message last week. Always love...

Two missing persons alerts on Northern Rivers

One of the cases is a woman who has been missing for more than a month.

Are you a mycophile or a mycophobe?

Considering we have such a reputation for clean, green, environmentally responsible farming of nutrient rich food, it’s surprising that...

Not a merger target: Byron Shire mayor Simon Richardson. Photo Eve Jeffery
Not a merger target: Byron Shire mayor Simon Richardson. Photo Eve Jeffery

Chris Dobney

The mayors of both Byron and Ballina shires have emphatically stated they are not interested in a merger, despite the state government flagging council amalgamations as part of its Fit for the Future plan, announced on Wednesday.

Byron mayor Simon Richardson even went so far as to hose down the speculation of other mayors in the region about what might emerge as a result of the plan’s implementation.

‘The language coming from the Tweed and Lismore mayors on ABC radio yesterday sounded very pro-amalgamation,’ he told Echonetdaily.

‘They can fight over Kyogle if they want to,’ he added.

‘It’s true we need to be financially responsible. We weren’t slated for amalgamation – we’re even further away now that our finances are getting better – so I thought a lot of that language was potentially slightly disconcerting to our residents.’

Cr Richardson has welcomed the government’s plan, which includes $5.3 million earmarked to assist in the development of new regional Joint Organisations and access to cheaper finance and reduction of red tape that the government says will save councils $700 million.

But he added, ‘Although it’s well known that our area faces challenges with ageing infrastructure, high usage demands and limited revenue sources, for the past two years we’ve had a strong focus on securing council’s financial sustainability,’ he said.

Meanwhile, Ballina mayor David Wright says he doesn’t think Byron would be a ‘good fit’ with his shire.

Ballina Mayor David Wright doesn't advocate merging with Byron.
Ballina Mayor David Wright doesn’t advocate merging with Byron.

‘I think the people who come to our shire come here for a special reason and that’s not to have that huge influx of people.

‘We have quite a few tourists and we’d like to have some more, but certainly not the influx that Byron Bay has,’ he told ABC radio this morning.

Ballina has made great play of its commercial arm raising additional revenue for the shire and is currently looking for a long-term operator to take over the running of the Ballina Airport, which it owns.

Cr Wright added, Ballina’s ‘entrepreneurial side had enabled it to keep up its infrastructure spending.

‘And we would be reluctant to have to shift and bring another council up to the same standard,’ he said.

Byron Council meanwhile has been at pains to point out the restructuring and economic stringency that has taken place under the current council and recently appointed general manager Ken Gainger.

In August council endorsed the second year of its Financial Sustainability Project Plan, with strategies to reduce expenditure, introduce efficiencies and sell property, as well as obtaining value-for-money procurement savings.

Mayor Richardson said there had been a reduction of senior staff as well as the creation of some strategic new positions including economic development, grants and events, outdoor staff and a procurement officer.

Our financial future, whilst still challenging, is now a brighter one and we look forward to being able to demonstrate our achievements to the state government via the Fit for the Future reforms,’ Cr Richardson said.

GM Gainger said, ‘a year ago we received a report card from the state treasury labelling council’s financial position as “weak and deteriorating”.

‘Since then council has adopted and implemented a range of measures that have steadily strengthened our financial position and enabled us to look to the future with confidence.’

‘Based upon the steady improvement in council’s financial indicators we will approach treasury and request that they undertake a further review of council’s financial sustainability,’ Mr Gainger said.

He said that he was confident that a revised assessment would lead to the council’s rating being upgraded.

‘Making such significant progress without having to raise council’s general rates above the annual rate peg limit is a great outcome for our ratepayers,’ he said.

Support The Echo

Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.

Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Mandy Nolan’s Soapbox: A Sobering Tale

Like most people I know alcoholism is in my genes. My father was an alcoholic. He drove drunk into another car, killed himself and an innocent man. He was 30. I’m 53.

Soil: The incredible story of what keeps the earth, and us, healthy

Sandra Haslam Matthew Evans is a restauranteur, farmer, food activist and author, best known for his SBS series Gourmet Farmer. He is also one of...

Spice it Up: consistently good Thai

Simon Haslam You have to be doing a lot of things right consistently to run a successful restaurant in different locations for over 22 years...

Adam Liaw at Sample festival: 4 September

Northern NSW’s premier food event, Sample Food Festival is returning to the Bangalow Showground on Saturday 4 September 2021, but if this news is...