Following three years of consultation and the commissioning of a formal Independent Review into the leadership, governance, finance arrangements, infrastructure needs and future challenges of local government, in 2014 the State Government developed the Fit for the Future package. This includes some proposed legislative changes to the Local Government Act, financial reforms and voluntary structural changes to local government boundaries with financial incentives to strengthen local government in NSW.
For further information visit www.fitforthefuture.nsw.gov.au
What this means for Blayney Shire Council
The Independent Panel Review recommendation for Blayney was as a ‘Council in Central West Joint Organisation (JO) or merge with Orange’.
Since the announcement in September 2014, we have been busy looking at our options based on the set criteria, which includes;
• Scale and capacity
• Financial sustainability
• Infrastructure and services
The ability to deliver and maintain community infrastructure and services is a critical component in our submission to the State Government demonstrating that Blayney Shire is Fit For the Future. This is an important requirement to be considered as a stand-alone council moving forward.
We are developing a strategy that demonstrates our financial sustainability whilst delivering services as efficiently and effectively to the community on a long term basis.
Council wholeheartedly believes that Blayney Shire has the scale and capacity to remain as a Council in the Central West JO and this is the best outcome for our community, services, businesses, town and villages. We will be embarking on consulting and engaging with the community in the near future to ensure that we are meeting the needs and expectations of our rate payers.
At the Council meeting on Monday 9 March, in response to the invitation from Orange City Council to participate in a merger business case study, Council resolved as follows (1503/003);
That, consistent with the position of Council regarding its scale and capacity under the Fit for the Future (FFF) reforms, as adopted by resolution on 9 February 2015:
1. Council prepares a Council Improvement Proposal (Template 2) as per the FFF Guidelines and submits this to the Office of Local Government (OLG) by 30 June 2015.
2. Notwithstanding resolution 1 above, the Mayor and General Manager be authorised to proceed with discussions with neighbouring councils regarding joint services, shared resources and/or possible merger business case studies and report to Council any outcomes or strategies for consideration.
3. Depending on the outcome of these discussions, and subject to first finalising and lodging the Council Improvement Proposal, Council agrees to fund and embark on a staged merger business case investigation with Orange City and Cabonne Councils subject to satisfying Council’s requirements or its independent due diligence.
The resolution is very clear that we will be submitting a Council Improvement Proposal as per the recommendation from the Independent Panel Review Report.
Our regional collaboration and established partnerships with neighbouring Councils, remains an important focus for Blayney Shire Council in demonstrating our financial sustainability in the long term. Cost savings and benefits of councils working together, sharing resources and staff expertise is testament to the success of both the Wellington Blayney Cabonne (WBC) Alliance and Centroc activities that will continue into 2016 and beyond.
We are committed through this process to engage our community on our progress. Regular updates from the Mayor and General Manager will appear in the Blayney Chronicle, the quarterly Community Newsletter, media, website, community news column, social media and weekly talkback radio and media across the Central West. In May, we are engaging the community further with a roadshow across Blayney and all the villages in the Shire.