Getting fit for the future

17 February 2015

AlburyCity will not pursue an amalgamation with Greater Hume Shire Council, opting instead to prove it has the scale and capacity to be fit for the future.

All NSW Councils have been asked to prepare proposals by 30 June outlining how they will become and remain sustainable under the government's Fit for the Future reform package. The proposals will be assessed by an independent panel which will make recommendations to the Minister for Local Government.

AlburyCity's Finance and Administration Committee tonight received a report which maps out Council's approach to meeting the 30 June deadline.

Committee Chair, Cr David Thurley says the government has defined a fit for the future council as one that is sustainable, efficient, effectively manages infrastructure, delivers services for communities and has the scale and capacity to engage effectively across community, industry and government.

Council has undertaken a self-assessment against government set criteria and meets five of the seven fit for the future benchmarks. "We've got some work to do to improve our operating performance ratio as well as reducing our infrastructure backlog ratio. We are continuing to implement strategies to address this in order for us to achieve the government's benchmarks."

Cr Thurley said council will now prepare an improvement proposal rather than a merger proposal.

In 2013, an independent Local Government Review Panel recommended AlburyCity be part of an Upper Murray Joint Organisation or potentially merge with Greater Hume (part or all).

Cr Thurley said, "We've already told the NSW Government that we strongly object to further amalgamations based on the experience of the last two boundary adjustments and the cost to ratepayers."

"We will now prepare our improvement proposal at the same time we prepare our annual operational plan, four-year delivery program and long term financial plan. They will then be released for public comment before the proposal is submitted to the Local Government Minister."