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Decade of tough calls leads to Nambucca's 'fit' rating

NAMBUCCA Mayor Rhonda Hoban has attributed her council's success in the IPART local government review to a decade of tough decisions and fat-trimming.

She said the council met all of the appraisal's criteria and would be unlikely to be forced into a merger with neighbouring "unfit" local governments Bellingen or Kempsey.

"Based on what I've heard from the department and the minister, the expectation is that if councils are considering a merger they would do it with a larger regional council," Cr Hoban said.

"By that logic if our two neighbouring councils were to consider a merger, my guess is they would be looking at Port Macquarie or Coffs Harbour."

The positive result was gratifying after a tough period for the region, with years of job cuts and nine "small" rate rises over 10 years to become financially viable.

The council has reduced its staffing levels to one of the lowest per capita levels in the state.

"If you look at our neighbouring councils, our levels are significantly less," Cr Hoban said.

"We also looked at liabilities - we survey the community every three years to get an indication of what is a high priority to them.

"Anything we can't show provides a good level of service, we have to question whether we should still be funding or maintaining it.

"So we have divested a lot of assets and infrastructure."

Cr Hoban said the positive result was not an excuse to relax, and was certain her community's scrutiny of day-to-day operations would remain as attentive as ever.

"It has meant a lot of difficult and politically unpalatable decisions over the past 10 years," she said.

"But it's not an excuse to sit back and rest on our laurels.

"We need to maintain that position and be vigilant about remaining financially efficient."

- APN NEWSDESK