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Council amalgamations on table

Tweed Mayor Barry Longland says all options are on the table.
Tweed Mayor Barry Longland says all options are on the table. John Gass

TWEED Shire councillors met at an extraordinary meeting on Tuesday to decide on the content of a submission to a newly instituted independent NSW local government review panel.

The council decided on a number of options including changes to boundaries which would result in Ocean Shores, Billinudgel and the Marshalls Creek hinterland becoming part of the Tweed Shire Council area.

Tweed mayor Barry Longland said he was appreciative of council staff's decision to include the views of current councillors in the submission as staff could easily have decided to wait until a new council was elected and use its suggestions only.

Cr Longland said changes to boundaries would in all likelihood be seen to be rather controversial by smaller councils such as Byron Shire, but as all councils were asked to provide a submission, Byron Shire council would have the opportunity to present its case.

One of the most important issues facing councils was rate pegging which only took place in NSW, according Cr Longland.

He said rate pegging made framing a budget difficult as councils only had control of one side of the budget, the expenditure side and had little or no control over the revenue side of the budget.

"Rate pegging severely inhibits council in its efforts to tailor its service delivery to meet the needs of the community," Cr Longland said

The review panel was created to look into ways to improve the strength and effectiveness of local government in NSW and has reached its first stage during which it investigates and explores ideas submitted by NSW councils.

The panel's review will take place in four stages.

Stage two will look at options for change, stage three will look at what can work and where and in stage four the panel will make recommendations to the NSW government.

Tweed council's submission will form the basis of a presentation by council at a panel meeting held on August 13, at Ballina.

The council will have a five-minute window to provide its viewpoints and yesterday considered a report which framed its position and will be presented at the panel meeting by the mayor and general manager.

The council's submission attempted to answer questions such as what the best aspects of local government in its current form were, what challenges the community would have to meet over the next 25 years and what top five changes should be made to local government to help meet the community's future challenges.

The submission also included suggestions such as the creation of larger councils, the introduction of half term councillor elections to provide continuity of council business and increased remuneration of councillors to provide greater incentives for participation and removal of existing barriers.

Topics:  amalgamation, byron shire council, local government, tweed shire council


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