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No amalgamation compensation for CVC

Geoff Helisma

Councils across the state have rejected Clarence Valley Council’s (CVCs) attempt to gain compensation for costs incurred following the amalgamation of the valley’s councils in 2004.

The Local Government NSW (LGNSW) Annual Conference 26 Record of Decisions reveals that CVC’s motion calling on LGNSW to lobby the “NSW Government on behalf of all NSW councils amalgamated in 2004 to receive the same financial compensation as those councils recently amalgamated in 2016” has failed.

The council’s motion, however, was amended before the final vote was taken – it was expanded to also include “communities whose proposed amalgamation did not proceed in 2017 receive the $5million community infrastructure funds as promised by the government”.

Voting numbers or minutes of discussion on the matter are not on the public record.

In July this year, Cr Debrah Novak put a motion on notice to the July CVC meeting, to directly lobby the NSW Government for compensation, however, only Cr Greg Clancy supported her motion.

Instead, a foreshadowed motion from Cr Richie Williamson, to lobby the government via LGNSW, was unanimously supported

At the July council meeting, Cr Williamson argued: “We can go alone and get the same result that we have had in the past: we have tried and failed, more than once, to lay claim to some mysterious, mythical amount of cash.

“…We can try again on our own, and we will fail, or we can get the support of those former 26 or 27 areas, now 11 new councils, and Local Government NSW, to push the barrow for us.

“They do have some real clout when it comes to issues like this … Local Government NSW can, could and should act on behalf of all of those amalgamated councils from 2004.”

However, support from a majority of councils was not forthcoming, despite CVC officers noting in the LGNSW annual conference business paper: “The then Government promised savings would be achieved through amalgamations.

“However, the cost of bringing together six councils comes with many associated costs, some being: phone systems, IT systems, software programs for finance, records, infrastructure, buildings and facilities.

“Our local government area has a limited rate base with a large footprint of over 10,000 sq. km that covers 129 timber bridges, 162 concrete bridges, 30 community halls and 2,578 km of roads.”

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