The Richmond Valley Council has opted to remain a stand-alone council but if forced to merge with Kyogle council would want more money from the state government.
Councillors voted unanimously this week to submit a ‘stand-alone’ response to the state government’s final consultation phase of its Fit for the Future process, which ended yesterday.
Just last week RVC general manager John Walker, who has since announced his resignation, told Echonetdaily that the council would want up to $20 million to meet the backlog of infrastructure work that would be required to repair Kyogle’s numerous timber bridges.
Both Lismore and Kyogle councils have also voted to ‘stand alone’.
Richmond Valley Council mayor Ernie Bennett said however that councilors remained wary of being forced to merge with Kyogle.
‘We have no choice in that so if we’re pushed we want to make it clear to government our thoughts around merged situations, that we’re not left worse off,” he told ABC radio.
‘Because if we’re pushed, then we need every dollar we can get under these circumstances.’
Councillors declined to nominate a preferred partner for amalgamation.
Cr Bennett said the council should be compensated if forced to merge with Kyogle.
‘It’s the only one that’s been talked about so under those circumstances there’s a need to throw some money at the bridge issue rather than put our council in a worse position than we currently are.’
Councillors voted unanimously following advice from general manager John Walker that the council would not benefit financially from a merger with Kyogle.
‘To assist Council in determining its position, a merger business case between Richmond Valley Council and Kyogle Council was commissioned and prepared by Morrison Low and a further meeting with Kyogle councillors and senior staff was held,’ Mr Walker said in his report on the issue.
‘The business case showed no advantages would flow to Richmond Valley ratepayers but did not entirely dismiss the potential of a merger. ‘
Meanwhile, Evans Head Memorial Committee president Dr Richard Gates, has called on the council to involve the public further in the issue.
Dr Gates also called for Mr Walker to stand aside from any future dealings on the issue as he had resigned.
‘The CEO has ‘no skin in the game’ and should disqualify himself from any further involvement. He will not be here to see and feel the consequences of his advice,’ he said.