Tweed Shire Council has rejected merging with neighbouring Kyogle Council, which was found to be ‘unfit’ to stand alone under the state government’s Fit for the Future (FFTF) review announced this week.
At its monthly meeting last night, Tweed shire councillors backed general manager Troy Green’s recommendation to decline to indicate any preferred merger with Kyogle, which was found to be not fit due to scale and capacity.
The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) report released on Tuesday gave the thumbs up to only 52 of 139 proposals submitted by 144 local councils, including four merger proposals covering nine current councils.
‘Given the Independent Local Government Review Panel’s preference for Kyogle Shire to merge with either Lismore City Council or Richmond Valley Council, coupled with the geographical constraints servicing Kyogle Shire from the Tweed Shire area, and the communities of interest including distance between major centres of Kyogle, Lismore and Casino, it is recommended that Council decline to indicate its preference to merge,’ Mr Green told councillors.
Kyogle shire failed to meet the government’s benchmarks in the first assessment for amalgamation.
The IPART report says its analysis based on scale and capacity for the Tweed did not identify ‘evidence for a better alternative to the council’s proposal to stand alone’.
The latest submission by Tweed council for IPART to consider next month supports the Tweed shire standing alone.
Mr Green said the revised submission would take into account improved financial results after an asset depreciation update, and the revised performance criteria would place Tweed in a much better position to stand alone under the next review of amalgamations.
He said that since the June 2015 submission to IPART, council’s general fund Operating Performance Ratio for 2014-15 has exceeded the required benchmark.
‘In addition, results from the asset revaluation for transport and stormwater drainage indicate that council should have a
reduced depreciation expense in 2015-16 of around $2m, further improving the Operating Performance Ratio,’ Mr Green said.
Most councils that want to continue as stand-alone operators passed the financial criteria but fell down on scale or capacity, and the report found amalgamations could deliver $2 billion in savings over the next 20 years.
Councils have until November 18 to make a final decision to government.
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