Fit for the Future and Council Amalgamation Position Statement

RDACC Board Resolution: 7 December 2015

In 2011, the NSW Government launched Destination 2036 to discuss the long term future and challenges that were facing local government. In 2012, an Independent Local Government Review Panel was established to assess options for local government structures, governance models, delivery systems and potential boundary changes.

The Independent Local Government Review Panel recommendations were documented in the Revitalising Local Government Report that was published in October 2013, along with those of the Local Government Acts Taskforce which informed the NSW Government’s Fit for the Future package, released in September 2014. Following this, all councils across New South Wales were required to prepare proposals as to how they will meet the Fit for the Future criteria, for submission to the NSW Government by 30 June 2015.

The NSW Government then appointed the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) to assess how council proposals met the Fit for the Future criteria.

 In October 2015, the NSW Government released IPART’s assessment of the Fit for the Future proposals. 87 councils were declared unfit, including Gosford City, Wyong Shire, Newcastle City and Lake Macquarie Councils.

Following this determination, the State Government advised that those councils that were assessed as unfit would have until 18 November 2015 to respond to the IPART findings, and indicate their preferences for mergers.

The RDACC Board were disappointed in the statements contained within the IPART report in regards to our Councils being “Fit For The Future” as both Councils have done tremendous work over the past few years in addressing their financial sustainability and their staff and councillors should be congratulated for their extensive efforts.

However, the IPART report went deeper than just financial measures and addressed “Scale and Capacity” when determining the optimal outcome for the region. IPART’s report showed that a merged entity would have greater scale and strategic capacity to better partner with other levels of government in providing key infrastructure and social services. In addition, the report stated that a merged Central Coast local government entity would be in a better position to integrate planning and development, which could result in improved planning decisions and enhanced economic growth.

The IPART report also found that based on both Councils independent financial submissions, which up to $196 million dollars over a 20 year period may be realised from a merger of the two Councils.

On 16 November 2015 both Gosford City and Wyong Shire Councils agreed to a historic, voluntary merger.

Both Councils have now submitted their merger preferences to the NSW Government, with it likely that a Central Coast Council will be proclaimed in December and come into effect by early 2016.

 The RDACC Board congratulates Gosford and Wyong Council’s on their agreement to voluntarily merge as part of the NSW Government’s Fit for the Future reform process.

The decision by Gosford and Wyong Council to voluntarily merge has ensured that our Central Coast community will now have an opportunity to have a say in how our new Central Coast Council will be formed and that the region will be able access $20 million in support from the NSW Government, to assist offsetting a small portion of the total amalgamation costs that will occur.

This historic agreement is the start of a new future for our Central Coast region and the RDACC Board are looking forward to working collaboratively with all sectors of our community to ensure that the best outcomes are achieved, for the entire Central Coast.

RDACC is confident that the decision by the two Councils to form the one united entity, will allow the Central Coast to proactively brand and market the Central Coast as a desirable region to visit, live, work and invest, which in time will greatly assist in addressing the regions higher than average unemployment rate and the 30,000 new jobs that need to be created on the Central Coast by 2030.

RDACC looks forward to assisting all levels of government, business and the community, to proactively work together to deliver the vibrant and successful future that the Central Coast rightly deserves.