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Local government: Councils’ opposition to super merger ramping up

Holroyd Council mayor Greg Cummings: jobs could be lost. Photo: Geoff Jones Canada Bay mayor Angelo Tsirekas: hefty rises in rates.
Nanjing Night Net

Holroyd Council mayor Greg Cummings: jobs could be lost. Photo: Geoff Jones

Holroyd Council mayor Greg Cummings: jobs could be lost. Photo: Geoff Jones

Holroyd Council mayor Greg Cummings: jobs could be lost. Photo: Geoff Jones

Councils are ramping up their opposition to the prospect of forced mergers after the state election by raising fears of higher rates, lost jobs and fewer services.

Leichhardt, Canada Bay, Ashfield, Burwood and Marrickville councils which face amalgamation into a “super council” of 342,000 residents are touting a report from consultants Morrison Low. The greatest negative effect, the report says, is the reduction in the number of councillors making it more difficult for residents to access their council.

The report says creating a super council would cost around $60 million more that the government would provide, would meet only four of the seven Fit for the Future benchmarks after 10 years and could mean higher rates for high-value properties.

Canada Bay mayor Angelo Tsirekas said his residents could pay up to 20 per cent more in rates, while businesses could pay 80 per cent more. The report says the average residential rate would rise in Leichhardt, Canada Bay and Strathfield and decline in Marrickville, Ashfield and Burwood.

At Holroyd Council more than 230 local residents and business owners attended a recent Hands off Holroyd rally. Most telling for the government was that all local sitting MPs and political candidates supported the council’s stance. A second rally will be held on March 19, nine days before the election.

“The meeting provided people the chance to find out how 450 jobs could be lost and crucial services like childcare, disability care, free baby immunisation and Meals on Wheels could be reduced or scrapped altogether,” mayor Greg Cummings said.

A paper challenging the arguments for amalgamation by the mayor of Mosman, economist Peter Abelson, and Macquarie University associate professor Roselyne Joyeux has been accepted for publication by the international journal Public Money and Management.

In the paper, Smoke and Mirrors, recently presented to a Local Government Professionals Australia forum, they dispute the claim that larger councils are more financially sustainable than small ones.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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