Queanbeyan City Council provides conditional support to full merger proposal if terms are met

At its Extraordinary Meeting last night, Queanbeyan City Council agreed to conditionally support a full merger with Palerang Council based on the NSW Government agreeing to a number of terms.

If the NSW Government doesn’t agree to the terms, and specifically the provision of a $30m grant, Council will be conditionally supporting a merger of the western section of Palerang Council and Queanbeyan, with the remainder of Palerang to be merged with Goulburn-Mulwaree.

“Council has been reviewing the two Government merger proposals for a number of months and our role was to determine what was best for the Queanbeyan ratepayers,” Queanbeyan Mayor, Cr Tim Overall said.

“The resolution we have landed on would provide both the Queanbeyan and Palerang ratepayers with a good result. We have provided conditional support to the full merger proposal, based on the new entity receiving a $30m grant to go towards merger costs and reducing the backlog and investing in new infrastructure.

“The $30m does sound like a big number, however the NSW Government has already offered $15m to both Goulburn-Mulwaree/East Palerang and Queanbeyan/West Palerang under a part merger proposal. So, from the NSW Government’s point of view it would be cost neutral, but the benefits to Queanbeyan and Palerang ratepayers would be significant.”

Council agreed to the full merger proposal based on the following conditions being met:
•    The new entity receive $30m in Government grants with $10m to address the cost of the merger and $20m to reduce the infrastructure backlog and invest in new infrastructure.
•    Bungendore not be classified as a rural centre under section 218CA of the Local Government Act due to a range of reasons.
•    Harmonisation of differential rating across urban, village and rural categories.
•    The new entity retain the RMS contract for at least four years.
•    The new Council have 13 councillors, no wards and a popularly-elected Mayor.

“Should the NSW Government not provide a $30m grant, Council will be supporting the part merger proposal and will be seeking the same conditions be met, along with adjustments to the boundary around the Majors Creek and Araluen areas,” Cr Overall said.

In providing conditional support to the full merger proposal, Council will be informing the Minister that Council resolved in November 2015 that its preference at that stage was to remain stand alone and operate as a regional service provider to neighbouring councils which would have achieved the Fit for the Future criteria.

“As Council has previously stated, we support the Government’s local government reform program and its intent to provide for strong local government around our region.

“This has been a long process and we are nearing the end.”

Queanbeyan City Council’s General Manager, Peter Tegart, will finalise the submission prior to the 8 April deadline. The submission will be assessed by the delegate, Mr John Turner who will report to the NSW Boundaries Commission. The Boundaries Commission will comment on the report and provide to the Minister of Local Government who will make a decision on each proposal.