Neighbouring Snowy Valleys to revisit demerger

In the wake of a Boundaries Commission recommendation last week that Cootamundra-Gundagai Regional Council be de-amalgamated, Snowy Valleys Council is set to consider putting a business case for a demerger to the government. 

The Boundaries Commission has recommended Cootamundra-Gundagai be demerged in a backflip from a recommendation just last year. This time, three of the four Commissioners recommended a demerger. 

At Snowy Valleys, Cr James Hayes is hoping to jump on his neighbours’ demerger bandwagon and has put forward a notice of motion calling for the council to prepare a business case for unwinding SVC. The business case is the first step in any demerger process, as outlined in the Local Government Act. 

Under the Act, any merged council can, within 10 years of merger, submit a written case to the Minister setting out a de-amalgamation. 

It needs to outline the reasons for the demerger, including a business case. 

The Minister is then obliged to refer the proposal to the Boundaries Commission, with a direction that it conduct an inquiry and report on the proposal. 

When the Boundaries Commission report is completed, the Minister then has 28 days to make a decision on the demerger proposal. 

Cr Hayes wants the council to hire a consultant to undertake the business case to reinstate the former Tumut and Tumbarumba Shires. 

He also wants the Save Tumbarumba Shire group to front half the cost of the business case – $110,000 – with the council to foot the other $110,000. 

Cr Hayes said the merger simply had not worked. 

“Despite all attempts and best efforts of staff and councillors to create a functional and sustainable council, it is most apparent that agitation and pressure from residents of the former Tumbarumba Shire will not cease and that the deleterious enforced rules, requirements and cost shifting placed on merged councils by the State Government make financial sustainability impossible without continually taxing residents and ratepayers,” Cr Hayes said.

“After the merger, the government walked away from the mess they created – they threw us a hand grenade without a pin in it and said go fix it. 

“I note that over 93 per cent of the eligible voters in the former Tumbarumba Shire are desirous to return to the old shire with greater representation and identity regardless of cost.” 

Cr Hayes, who is currently overseas, put the notice of motion up for the July council meeting, however, it was not considered, due to his signature not being attached to the notice of motion.

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