Future ‘bleak’ for Kyogle’s council: Coffs councillor
COFFS Harbour City Councillor Mark Sultana has called on local governments facing forced amalgamations to "bite the bullet".
It was clear from Local Government Minister Paul Toole's speech at the LGNSW annual conference today that mergers would go ahead whether councils liked it or not.
Only nine of the state's 152 local governments have so far nominated for amalgamation and accepted an incentives program including a lump sum payment and cheaper interest on loans.
"He basically said IPART will come out with its summary of the Fit for the Future package and councils will be given their last chance to amalgamate," Cr Sultana said.
"And if they don't, they're going to suffer the consequences.
"I think that left a bad taste in everyone's mouth."
Cr Sultana said Coffs had nominated to join with Clarence Valley Regional Councils last year as part of a pilot program.
But it was rejected in favour of councils south of Newcastle.
"It would be a big windfall for us up north if we were able to get those extra funds for choosing to amalgamate early-on," he said.
"The metro councils are definitely against it. They feel they have a lot to lose.
"For the regional ones, it looks like this could be a positive thing for us.
"We share resources already, and our waste management contract involves all three councils."
The council in Coffs' sister city Kyogle, in the state's far north, is fighting tooth-and-nail to remain a separate entity and retain its borders.
Cr Sultana said its diagnosis did not look good.
"I think they'll go. I think their future is very bleak, to be honest," he said.
He had no doubt amalgamations would become mandatory for those councils who failed the Fit for the Future testing and did not nominate for mergers of their own accord.
"It will be forced," Cr Sultana said.
"I'm at the stage where I'm thinking, just do it - get it over and done with.
"The longer you drag it out, the worse it's going to get."
NOTE: This article wrongly stated Coffs had last year nominated to join with Bellingen and Nambucca Councils, and that its bid was turned down in favour of Port Macqaurie.