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Update on Bland Shire Council's future

The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) assessment of the Fit for the Future submissions from New South Wales Councils was released by the State Government on Tuesday.

Bland Shire Council is among the 63 per cent of the Council improvement proposals received which were assessed as “not fit”.

Of those 87 proposals assessed as not being fit for the future –

  • 60 were assessed as not having sufficient scale and capacity, but did meet the financial criteria

  • 18 were assessed as having sufficient scale and capacity, but did not meet the financial criteria, and

  • Nine were assessed as not having sufficient scale and capacity and not meeting the financial criteria

Bland Shire Council Assessment summary

Scale and capacity – Does not satisfy

Financial capacity – Satisfies overall

Sustainability - Satisfies

Infrastructure and service management – Does not satisfy

Efficiency – Satisfies

What does this mean for the future of Bland Shire Council?

The State Government has announced that Councils have until 18 November to respond to the IPART report, including merger preferences.

The Government has also advised that there will be no opportunity for Councils to seek a review of the IPART assessment.

In a webcast involving the Premier, Mike Baird, Local Government Minister, Paul Toole and the head of IPART, Peter Boxall, on Tuesday it was made clear that the State Government is looking for “unfit” Councils to explore merger options and indicate its preferred merger options by the deadline of 18 November.

At its monthly meeting on Tuesday night, Council resolved for the General Manager to prepare details of possible options for Council’s consideration.

All options, including the possibility of mounting a further case to stand alone and/or be considered under the yet to be determined Rural Council model, will be formally discussed at a special Council meeting on Tuesday 10 November prior to lodging a submission.

The IPART report has identified Temora and Coolamon Shire Councils as potential merger partners. Council will also make initial contact with other neighbouring Councils for possible consideration prior to 10 November.

What this means for Council staff?

During the webcast, the Minister confirmed that there is no intention to amend the award, which means current Council staff who work under the award are protected for three years.

After three years, a merged Council may elect to relocate or lay off some staff.

Contracted staff, of which there are three at Bland Shire Council (The General Manager and two directors), will not be protected and will have to reapply for positions if there is a merger.

What happens next?

After responses to the IPART report close on 18 November, the State Government has indicated that Councils will be informed of their fate prior to Christmas.

It is anticipated that the newly merged Councils will come into effect following the Local Government elections in September next year.

 

Ray Smith

Bland Shire Council

General Manager