Glenn Handford speaks at the Great Lakes Merger information sessions

Hundreds upon hundreds of residents attended Great Lakes Council’s Community Information Sessions in Bulahdelah, Stroud, Tea Gardens and Forster last week.

David Saul, Great Lakes Council General Manager Glenn Handford and Brian Ede discuss the merger proposal in Bulahdelah
David Saul, Great Lakes Council General Manager Glenn Handford and Brian Ede discuss the merger proposal in Bulahdelah

The sessions, led by Great Lakes General Manager Glenn Handford, provided details concerning the proposed merger of Great Lakes, Gloucester and Taree Councils.

Mr Handford confirmed that Great Lakes was supporting the proposal subject to a blueprint, explaining the merger needed to be undertaken in a way that creates efficiencies of scale and capacity.

“The merged council needs to be appropriately structured to set us up for success,” Mr Handford said.

“There is a need to be able to deliver efficient and effective services to all communities in the combined council area.”

Mr Handford explained as a result of the merger, the combined backlog of projects across the three council areas would require funds in excess of $125million to clear.

While the merger could create a projected $23million in savings over 20 years, when divided between the three councils the saving is just over $500,000 each per annum.

A portion of the projected savings is expected to come from streamlining Senior Management roles.

“Obviously only one General Manager would be required instead of three, and there would also be some savings from the reduction in the number of Counsellors and senior staff,” Mr Handford said.

With Great Lakes deemed fit on all criteria, Mr Handford said they needed to develop a blueprint for success of the merged council.

Ray White Tea Gardens
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“It’s not by accident that we are fit for the future, we have good management practices in place, we have a strategic council, good interaction with management at all levels and interaction with our community,” Mr Handford said.

“We want the blueprint to have sound financial and asset management and representation to ensure our communities have a voice.”

Mr Handford said the proposal is now in the hands of the State Government who will make the final decision by midyear.

With the series of public inquires with Local Government’s delegate Dr Ian Tiley occurring this week, the final avenue for residents to voice their opinion on the proposed merger is via written submission which closes on 15 April.

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