Approved for release by: Anthony McMahon
Date for release: 10 November 2015
Media Contact: Anthony McMahon
Boorowa Finalise Merger Preferences
At an extraordinary meeting of Council held, 9 November 2015, Boorowa Councillors made a final decision on merger preferences in response to a directive from the NSW Government.
The State Government has given Councils across NSW until 18 November to submit their merger preferences ahead of a Government decision on mergers expected prior to Christmas this year.
Boorowa Council has decided to stay consistent with its preferred position throughout the Local Government Reform process, which is to support a merger with both Harden and Young Councils.
“Our first preference was based on what is clearly the best outcome for our community and the regional community both in terms of efficiencies in service delivery as well as advocacy. A lot of work has gone into making that assessment and it has consistently been identified as the best outcome for the three Councils” said Boorowa Mayor Wendy Tuckerman.
Early in the reform process the Government formed an Independent Local Government Review Panel (ILGRP), which recommended a merger between the three Councils as the optimal outcome. The three Councils then undertook an analysis which identified the benefits associated with the merger; the Government indicated it agreed with the recommendations of the ILGRP and most recently the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) has identified a merger of Boorowa, Harden and Young as providing the best outcomes for the communities.
Boorowa Council also identified a second merger preference which was to merge with Young alone.
“We believe that should a merger of the three Councils not be supported by the Government, that a merger with Young alone is the next best option and a likely scenario regardless of whether it is supported by Council or not. As part of that preference we have also indicated that incentive funding should match that of the three way merger which is $15million, given that Council has been proactive in the Governments reform agenda and that some extra incentive should be allocated if the government decide not to select the best possible outcome for the region" said Mayor Tuckerman.
Councillors also considered whether to support a four way merger incorporating Cootamundra as a preference; however this option did not receive support.
“It was very clear in our round table discussions that Cootamundra Council are very Wagga Wagga centric and Riverina focused and although we work very closely with Councils in that region the other three Councils have greater alignment with the Canberra region. The opportunities and growth coming from the Canberra Region are significant and as a region we need to embrace those opportunities to continue to grow and diversify our economy. Regardless of what the final decision of the Government is, the new Council or Councils are committed to continuing to work together closely to achieve the best outcomes for our communities” said Mayor Tuckerman.
Boorowa will now wait on the final decisions of its neighbouring Councils ahead of the 18 November deadline. After that time, the fate of the Councils rests in the hands of the Government.
“Regardless of which of our two preferences are supported and after what is now years of uncertainty on our future we are looking forward to embracing the change, realising the opportunity to build a stronger region and transitioning into a new and exciting phase that will deliver better outcomes for our communities” said Mayor Tuckerman.
Anthony McMahon (02) 6380 2000.