Council to consider Palerang merger

QUEANBEYAN City Councillors will meet to discuss a possible merger between Queanbeyan and Palerang Local Government Areas (LGAs) recommended in the Local Government Review Panel’s final report, handed down today.

The report looks at a range of issues facing local government in NSW and has suggested 65 recommendations including amalgamations and the establishment of Regional Joint Organisations.

One recommendation is that Queanbeyan and Palerang merge by 2017, creating a large LGA with a predicted population of 77,100 by 2031.

Mayor Tim Overall said Council was currently reviewing all of the recommendations included in the reports handed down by NSW Local Government minister Don Page.

“Councillors will discuss the final reports and will form a position on the recommendations of both reports at workshops and Council meetings over the coming months,” Cr Overall said.

“There have been a number of amendments from the interim Local Government Review Panel report so we will need to have a close look at all of the recommendations.”

However Mr Overall refuted the suggestion that a merger could make for a financially stronger LGA, and said it was based on an outdated Treasury Corp estimate of Queanbeyan’s financial position, which was rated as ‘weak’ last year  before being upgraded to ‘moderate’.

“As in the interim report, the final report recommends an amalgamation between the Queanbeyan and Palerang Local Government Areas, with a timeframe of 2017 recommended.

“Unfortunately, the final report uses outdated data from the Treasury Corporation’s assessment of NSW local government from 2012. Queanbeyan’s assessment has since been updated by the Treasury Corporation and is now rated as moderate, which is considered acceptable in terms of Council’s financial sustainability.”

Local Government NSW (LGNSW) has called on the NSW Government to extend the consultation period until the end of April 2014. President of LGNSW, Cr Keith Rhoades AFSM, said the vast majority of NSW councils do not have their first council meeting for the year until February, leaving little to no time for them to properly consider and respond to the NSW Government’s 7 March consultation deadline.

Both the Local Government Review Panel and Local Government Acts Taskforce Reports are open for comment until 7 March 2014 and can be viewed at www.dlg.nsw.gov.au.

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