Lismore city council senior staff are urging councillors to reject merging with Kyogle council because Lismore residents would end up bearing the costs.
In a report to tomorrow’s meeting, executive staff have outlined the case against an amalgamation, arguing that while an amalgamation would improve services in Kyogle, Lismore residents would be paying for it.
In a costs and benefits analysis, Lismore staff say a merger would provide a boost of $10.5 million over 10 years, the benefits were marginal in a budget of around $100 million.
‘The most important aspect of note is that the costs of the merger are born disproportionately by Lismore residents and the benefits, albeit marginal, of the merger are almost exclusively gained by residents of Kyogle,’ the staff report says.
‘Service levels in Kyogle will rise significantly and this rise in service level would be funded by the residents of Lismore.’
Factors working against a merger include concerns about the quality of economic data provided by Kyogle council; Kyogle’s backlog of infrastructure works, and differing community aspirations.
‘It is clear from the Community Strategic Plans of both councils that the community of interests are very different.,’ staff say.
‘Lismore is a predominately urban area whereas Kyogle is a predominantly rural area.
‘A merged council will see the interests of these very different communities compromised, with only a very modest and very unreliable positive financial business case.’
Lismore City Council was found to be ‘fit for the future’ under assessments made by the state government, but Kyogle council was found to be not fit.
And while the state is offering a $5 million sweetener if a merger was to go ahead, staff say that would be offset by other ongoing costs.