POTENTIAL COUNCIL AMALGAMATION
Last week, the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) provided the NSW Government with its report on the assessment of 139 Fit for the Future council proposals that was received from 144 councils.
The report provided a snapshot of what IPART found when they assessed the following criteria:
- Scale and Capacity
- Financial Criteria
- Financial Sustainability
- Infrastructure and Service Management
Neither Gosford nor Wyong was deemed fit for the future in IPARTS report, which recommended a merger between the two Councils or a new joint organisation being established for the Central Coast.
The State Government have confirmed that both Gosford and Wyong Council now have until November 18 to respond and either agree to merge voluntarily or risk the State Government forcing an amalgamation.
Phil Walker Chair of Regional Development Australia Central Coast (RDA Central Coast) said, “First, I want to clarify that statements contained within last weeks IPART report in regards to our Councils being “Fit For The Future” were disappointing, as both Council’s have done tremendous work over the past few years in addressing their financial sustainability and their staff and councilors 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 our region”.
Phil Walker said, “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, 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 Council’s independent financial submissions, that up to $196 million dollars over a 20 year period may be realised from a merger of the two Councils. To encourage the voluntary amalgamation of Gosford and Wyong Councils the NSW State Government has offered $10 million dollars funding assistance for mergers plus an additional $10 million dollars for essential infrastructure projects” said Phil Walker.
“With the regions already higher than average unemployment rate and an additional 59,000 people predicted to live in the region by 2031, the Central Coast will require in excess of 30,000 new jobs to be created over the next 16 years. A regionally focused integrated planning and development strategy, improved planning decisions and a unified regional strategy for economic growth will greatly assist in addressing many of the challenges that the Central Coast is currently facing and will continue to face over the coming decade".
RDA Central Coast encourages both Gosford City Council and Wyong Shire Council to commence discussions between the two Councils and the State Government to orchestrate the best possible outcome for the combined Central Coast Region” said Phil Walker.