NSW Government announces full merger of Queanbeyan and Palerang

The NSW Government has today announced that Queanbeyan City Council and Palerang Regional Council will be fully merged to become the Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council.

Queanbeyan Mayor Tim Overall has been appointed Administrator of the new Council for an interim period up until the local government elections in September 2017.

“I am pleased that the Government has made a determination on this matter and removed the ongoing period of uncertainty for staff, councillors and residents,” Mr Overall said.

“It’s important to assure all Queanbeyan and Palerang residents that despite today’s announcement, all usual Council business will continue to be undertaken during this interim phase, including the adoption of budgets for 2016-17 and implementation of services and projects contained in both budgets. That means water still gets delivered to taps and bins get collected.

“Staff employed by both Queanbeyan City Council and Palerang Council have protections under the Local Government Act which covers a three-year period from the time of proclamation. It is fortunate that Queanbeyan and Palerang are both high growth areas and it follows that looking to the future there will be enhanced employment and career opportunities with the larger council.”

Mr Peter Tegart has been appointed the interim General Manager of the Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council, while Mr Peter Bascomb has been appointed Deputy General Manager. It’s fortunate that both organisations have staff experienced in merger processes.

“I welcome the appointment of Mr Tegart as the interim General Manager and Mr Bascomb as Deputy General Manager,” Mr Overall said. “I look forward to working closely with all staff and engaging with the community on the transition to the new organisation over the coming months.”

The new local government area of Queanbeyan-Palerang Council will have a population of 56,368 (increasing to 76,000 by 2031) and an area of 5,319km2. The operating revenue of the new entity will be $159m, will have an asset base of $586m and a combined workforce of around 400 full time equivalent staff.

The primary role of the Administrator will be to oversee the successful transition of the two councils, including the development and implementation of a strategic 18-month plan. During the period, a 10-year Resourcing and Integration Strategy, comprising a Long Term Financial Plan, Asset Management Plan, Workforce Management Strategy and Governance Plan, will be developed.

“This will lay a solid and sustainable foundation for a newly-elected Council to then adopt its own four-year Delivery Program and annual budgets in consultation with the whole community.”

The NSW Government has announced that the period of Administration will continue until the local government elections in September 2017 with the Administrator then handing over to a newly-elected Council.

During 2015-16, Queanbeyan City Council engaged Professor Percy Allen to undertake an extensive Asset and Financial Sustainability Review. This review will now be extended to encompass the new local government area.

“We estimate the outstanding infrastructure renewal backlog for the new local government to be in the order of $45-55m or 8% of total asset value. Our objective and planning will be to ensure this is brought down to a sustainable level of around 2%,” Mr Overall said.

The NSW Government announced that the new entity would receive a merger grant of $5m and a separate $10m grant for infrastructure-related projects.

“While welcoming the NSW Government’s financial contributions, we will be engaging in discussions with the NSW Government for additional infrastructure renewal and capital works funding to ensure the pressure on future rate movements is maintained as far as possible.

“I have confidence that with the provision of supporting information demonstrating the requirement for specific additional funding for road, bridge and sewer upgrades, the discussions with the NSW Government will be productive.”