Councillors voted 6 to 4 last night to prepare a submission to the NSW Government demonstrating that Ku-ring-gai is ‘fit for the future’ without the need for amalgamation. However the Council also voted to open discussions with surrounding councils on voluntary amalgamations.
The Council considered a report on the proposed reforms called ‘Fit for the Future’ at its meeting this week. It follows the release at the end of last month of the NSW Government’s guidelines and templates on the issue, which includes options for potential mergers with other councils.
The Council report outlined how Ku-ring-gai would go about preparing its submission to the NSW Government on the Fit for the Future reforms. All NSW Councils are required to lodge a submission by 30 June 2015 demonstrating how they are sustainable in the future as stand-alone councils.
Under the definition of Fit for the Future councils must show that they have effective services and infrastructure, plus ‘scale and capacity to effectively engage across community, industry and government.’
As recently as September, Mayor Andersen has said “We don’t feel that (merging with another council) would be a positive outcome for our residents and we would have a lower representation of “Ku-ring-gai” in a council that was subsumed by a larger council with a large population and larger geographic area.”
As part of the new resolution, the Council voted to engage ‘facilitators and other consultants as necessary to enable a report to be brought back to Council by February 2015 with possible configuration options before preparing a detailed business case for consultation with the community.’
Mayor Anderson said the Council needed to remain flexible in its approach to the Fit for the Future reform package. “We will consider the implications of all the options on the table, bearing in mind the best interests of our ratepayers,” she said. “Our financial modelling shows that higher rates will follow a merger with a Council that has lesser land values, such as Hornsby.”
“Ku-ring-gai is very well prepared to meet the challenges ahead. We have a strong balance sheet and can meet community expectations in terms of delivering infrastructure.”