Councillor Geoff Dingle from Port Stephens Council offers the following Letter to the Editor to News Of The Area
Port Stephens Council is on the cusp of dramatic changes to its electorate status as we head towards a merger which I predict will be with Newcastle City Council.
Currently there is a merger review between Dungog and Port Stephens Councils but plenty of evidence to show that this is a delay rather than a serious alternative based on the Federal election attempting to minimise voter backlash.
We will know the amalgamation lottery result in a little over a month and then find out if current NCC and PSC Councilors will be offered roles on an interim advisory panel with a new Council.
The joint Council will be headed up by an administrator for as long as 14 months.
While there is much disquiet in the Port Stephens community about merging with Newcastle much of this is based on fear that Newcastle is financially bereft and dysfunctional, the facts don’t show this at all and Newcastle Council is more concerned that it will have to redirect funds for road and drainage upgrades in Port Stephens to meet current standards.
I predict in a few short years all will be forgotten when waste is collected, roads are repaired and infrastructure continues to be maintained to a reasonable standard.
The major concern should be the level of representation in Port Stephens which currently has a higher level per head of population than Newcastle.
We could potentially end up with two wards rather than three and as few as two Councilors per ward, a total of four to represent all Port Stephens residents down from the current nine.
They will be busy people with long distances to cover and dramatically larger numbers of ratepayers and residents to represent.
Current stipend, which is very modest the only positive to assist these Councilors will be slight raise in pay when they move to a new status funding level with larger council.
Our future is currently in the hands of the Minster for Local Government and we await his response to a decision that I believe was made as long as twelve months ago.
by Councilor Geoff Dingle, Medowie