QUEANBEYAN Council has voted by a narrow majority that Queanbeyan should remain as a Local Government Area in its own right and not endorse a merger with any neighbouring LGA.
At its meeting on Wednesday night an earlier motion recommending there be a partitioning of Palerang, rather than a full merger, was not supported by the majority of Councillors.
Queanbeyan City Council and many councils in NSW have been required to address their future following the NSW Government’s decision to reform the local government sector to place it on a more sustainable basis for the future. The process has included a report from the Independent Local Government Review Panel, which recommended many councils, including Queanbeyan and Palerang, merge.
Following the release of this report councils were asked to report to Government on these recommendations and make a case regarding whether they were ‘Fit for the Future’, meeting scale and capacity requirements along with seven financial sustainability benchmarks.
The Independent Pricing and Review Tribunal was then asked to look at these submissions and report back on which councils they believed were ‘fit’ and which weren’t. Queanbeyan City Council was considered ‘fit’ in all the financial sustainability areas, except for scale and capacity. Palerang was also deemed ‘not fit’ on the basis of scale and capacity.
Over the last few weeks Queanbeyan City Council’s Mayor Tim Overall, and General Manager Peter Tegart have been talking to neighbouring councils. Palerang has maintained it wants to stand alone and has decided it does not wish to merge with Queanbeyan.
The NSW Government has offered a $10 million incentive to those councils that agree to merge voluntarily. This amount would assist with defraying the costs of any merge and also provide funding for local infrastructure.
The NSW Government is due to make announcements regarding the future of local government in December.