Kyogle wants 'dialogue' with Lismore over council mergers
KYOGLE Mayor Danielle Mulholland wants her council to "reopen the dialogue" with Richmond Valley and Lismore after IPART found two-thirds of NSW's councils to be financially unviable.
Lismore and Richmond Valley councils were in the minority and were both deemed fit for the future.
Cr Mulholland said it was obvious forced amalgamations would be introduced if councils did not volunteer for mergers.
"I thought we put in a solid application," she said.
"Both Richmond and Lismore have been found to be fit, and it was (previously) recommended that we either join a 'joint organisation' or merge with them.
"However, they have resolutions on their books that they will stand alone and will not merge.
"I would be scared of our $50 million infrastructure backlog as well."
Cr Mulholland said she would call on the council to recommence conversations with its neighbours to "find a way forward".
"We just have to keep on keeping on," she said.
"I admit to being a little surprised, but IPART does not have an appeals process.
"And (the State Government) is saying they fully intend to proceed with the September 2016 elections.
"That means councils will be merging, and merging fast."
Lismore Mayor Jenny Dowell said the council's options for a merger would be discussed at an informal meeting last night.
"If (Kyogle) council wants to talk, we should be polite and good neighbours," she said.
"Our preference is to stand alone but I realise they don't have that choice.
"But our role is to find the true cost of that for our council.
"We need to really look at the business case."
Richmond Valley Mayor Ernie Bennett said he was open to conversation but would make no promises.
"We've done the hard yards and got there," he said.
"Now we want to keep our eye on the ball and make sure we stay there.
"But that won't preclude us from having discussions with other councils who need to talk.
"At the end of the day it's about servicing our communities to the best of our ability."
It also remains to be seen whether Tweed and Byron, both deemed unfit, may be eligible for a merger.
Ballina Mayor David Wright considered it unlikely, but was "fairly confident" his council could avoid any amalgamations after meeting the IPART criteria.
"If you have two councils that aren't sustainable, putting them together doesn't just make them sustainable," he said.
"It just makes a bigger problem.
"I think we're okay - we wouldn't like to support another council, but there might be some moves."
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