In a bold and decisive move designed to bring stability and certainty to a destabilising situation, Great Lakes Councillors voted unanimously to advise the minister that Council is prepared to support a merger with Taree and Gloucester councils.
This was not an easy decision for the councillors to make, particularly as each one went in to the workshop with the preferred option to stand alone.
The motion was:
1. Great Lakes Council has held a long term position to stand alone and has been found to be fit under the NSW Fit for the Future program. Council was also found to be financially sustainable by the NSW Treasury Corporation. On this basis, council is confident that their strategic direction and management practices are sound and in line with the Government’s vision for the future of local government.
2. Council has considered and understands the NSW Government’s direction on local government reform and mergers. In recognition of this direction, council acknowledges and is prepared to support the ministers proposal to merge Great Lakes, Gloucester and Taree councils subject to a blue print for the future being developed to ensure the new council is appropriately structured for success and thedelivery of efficient and effective services to the communities of the combined councils.
3. That council engages Morrison Low to help prepare a submission and merger blueprint
4. Advises our residents and ratepayers of our decision and reasons through information forums, website and media
5. Sets a budget of up to $100,000 to undertake the above
Council made the decision after examining various scenarios, possibilities, the government business case and our own staff analysis that showed if we applied our decision making, leadership and culture it would be doable.
It would also enable Gloucester and Taree to be lifted out of the doldrums so that together we would be a very powerful regional council of strong local communities working cooperatively for the benefit for all.
If our blueprint is followed it would mean that the heavy lifting would not just be carried by our ratepayers but be of financial benefit.
It was heartening to hear from a staff member who is not normally in attendance at our meetings but was on this occasion, that she was impressed and encouraged by the way in which the councillors debate and arrive at a decision.
Council also met with Dr Tiley who has been tasked to conduct hearings into the proposal.
He outlined the process and stressed the importance of locals attending the hearings.
It is important that residents express their view through submissions and more importantly attend one of the public hearings.
Our closest is at Bulahdelah Bowling Club at 3pm on 5 April. Hopefully we can pack the venue.
There is no point in just saying leave us alone, we are fit.
The government already knows that. We need to express our opinions through submissions.
I urge you to have your say; otherwise, we may miss out on the representation and services we deserve.