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April 20, 2021

Public asked to comment on county councils merger

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Rous Water chair Ballina councillor Sue Meehan.
Rous Water chair Ballina councillor Sue Meehan.

A public consultation into the proposed merger of Rous Water, Richmond River County Council and Far North Coast County Council is set to begin next week.

Proponents say the merger would result in an immediate net cash saving of $130,000 and reduced administration costs.

NSW Minister for Local Government Paul Toole announced that the proposed merger was set to move to the public consultation phase.

Rous County Council chair Sue Meehan said the decision followed a lengthy five year process by the counties to effect change to improve financial sustainability and on-ground outcomes.

‘The cost of doing nothing is mounting every day and the merger is an option that will provide immediate real and tangible benefits,’ Cr Meehan said.

‘While not yet a certainty, it represents a course of action that we believe is in the best interests of the counties and the region.

‘The fact that we have got this far illustrates the appetite that exists for and our capacity as a region to champion reform”.

She said the proposed merger would allow for an immediate reduction in administrative workload and associated costs, thereby garnering prompt savings, reducing unnecessary administration and improving the quality of services to the region.

‘If the merger is to progress, it is expected to result in an immediate net cash saving of $130,000 per year. ‘

Mr Kyme Lavelle, the general manager for each of the county councils, said he was pleased with the announcement.

‘The proposal to merge was initiated locally and is endorsed by councils across the region and is separate to the Fit for the Future program currently covering reform for general purpose councils,’ he said.

Mr Lavelle said the proposed merger intended to increase operational efficiency and financial sustainability across the organisation.

He said a 2012 UTS study on the viability of reform recommended restructuring or reform for the three county councils, and after careful consideration the merger was chosen as the strongest way forward.

Mr Lavelle said that customers should be reassured that in the meantime it is business as usual.

At this stage the proposal is in the hands of the State Government who will now conduct a public consultation process.

Following the public consultation process, the minister will provide a recommendation on the proposed merger.

Submissions on the proposal will be invited in mid-July. Further details will be made available on the Rous Water website at www.rouswater.nsw.gov.au early next week.


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