Lismore City Council has backed the ‘no forced amalgamations’ position set out in the Local Government NSW’s priority list for the upcoming state election.
The LGNSW has prepared a document listing the significant issues facing councils throughout the state, and the possible solutions.
Mayor Jenny Dowell told fellow councilors last night that it was important for councils to support the key priorities list of the local government association even if some of the issues did not impact on Lismore council.
The document, available at http://www.lgnsw.org.au/keyinitiatives/nsw-election-priorities-2015, outlines the key priorities under seven key themes.
They are greater autonomy in governance, autonomy in council revenue raising, fair funding for shared infrastructure and service responsibilities, agreed pathways on structural reform, mutual positioning on social policy priorities, improved environmental legislation and settings and balanced land use planning.
The priority list is being sent to all political parties and candidates contesting the election.
Cr Dowell said the priority list would help towards resetting the ‘master/servant’ relationship between the state and local government.
Cr Greg Bennett said he had real concerns however about the document’s push to abolish rate-pegging saying it could lead to councils applying for ‘whatever they want’, while Cr Neil Marks and Graeme Meineke were wary that agricultural land would not be protected.
Cr Simon Clough said however that it was important to stand with the LGNSW, especially on the issue of forced amalgamations.
Councils across the state have been directed by the state government to investigate possible amalgamations, and Lismore has been in talks with Kyogle council, although neither council wants to amalgamate.
Lismore’s major concerns is that it would become responsible for the vast network of wooden bridges that need repairing or replacing throughout the Kyogle shire.
‘If we have the albatross of Kyogle’s infrastructure around our neck we will be in all sorts of difficulties,’ Cr Clough said.
Following debate, the mayoral motion was passed, with Crs Marks, Bennett and Meineke voting against.
A following motion from Cr Ray Houston regarding library funding touched on the ‘shared infrastructure and services responsibilities’ of the document.
Cr Houston argued that council should support the NSW Public Libraries Association push for 30 per cent more state government funding.
All councilors agreed and the motion was passed.