Coffs Harbour City Council is making preparations in case the State Government decides on pushing ahead with amalgamations or joint organisations.
Coffs Harbour City Council is making preparations in case the State Government decides on pushing ahead with amalgamations or joint organisations. Trevor Veale

Coffs council looks at joint organisation

COFFS Harbour City Council has reapplied to create a pilot joint organisation of four North Coast councils.

The proposed joint organisation would include Clarence, Coffs Harbour, Bellingen and Nambucca.

Coffs Harbour mayor Denise Knight said the four councils had been sharing services for many years.

Clarence and Coffs Harbour share their water supply, and Coffs Harbour, Bellingen and Nambucca share waste services.

The first bid last year failed, with the five pilots approved in November being the Hunter, Illawarra, Namoi, Central West and Riverina.

Cr Knight said in the new application, they had added a few more figures "which probably should have been added the first time."

She said she expected becoming part of a joint organisation would involve more shared services like administration.

As part of the NSW government's Fit for the Future campaign to encourage changes to local government, the Office of Local Government is forcing all councils outside greater Sydney into regional joint organisations by September 2016, when the next local government elections will be held.

Coffs Harbour is already part of MIDROC, the Regional Organisation of Councils, which stretches from Coffs Harbour to Gloucester and includes seven councils, but Cr Knight said she believed this was too big an area to be a joint organisation or to be amalgamated into one council.

On amalgamation, Cr Knight said there was a lot of talk, but not much information filtering down to a local level.

She said they were trying to be proactive rather than reactive and to be "spade-ready" if the State Government decided on amalgamations or joint organisations.

"If you don't get your act together, you'll be left out," she said

Cr Knight said she personally questioned the rationale behind the proposed amalgamation of councils.

"What are the benefits for the community?" she said.

The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) has been appointed as the expert advisory panel for the state government's plan to reduce the number of NSW councils.



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