Amalgamation benefits a way off

Mayor Ron Dyne says council merger benefits may be years away.
Mayor Ron Dyne says council merger benefits may be years away.

IT may be another “three or four years” before Gympie Region ratepayers see the benefits of amalgamation, after having already experienced much of the upset and cost, Mayor Ron Dyne said yesterday.

Speaking on the second anniversary of the amalgamations which created Gympie Region out of the former shires of Cooloola, Kilkivan and (part of) Tiaro, Cr Dyne said there had been considerable hard work and cost

With rates bills pushing financial matters to the front of many ratepayers’ minds at the moment, Cr Dyne said standardising the rates burden across the three council areas had been one of the major challenges.

“A lot of hard work has been required and a lot of statutory requirements have had to be implemented.

“Councillors have had to put in a lot of hard work to achieve these requirements and many of those tasks are still ongoing.

“Big changes have been made to standardise rates across the council areas and you could say that’s a very sensitive issue.

“I think the benefits will come when we bed everything in, including the rates.

“But I don’t think people will see any real economies of scale for about three or four years,” he said.

“We’re fairly lucky with the three councils into one, because we haven’t had the same staff issues other councils have had.”

Cr Dyne said one the council’s merger-related cost problems had been the slowness of State Government consideration of its claim for extra compensation for some of the amalgamation costs.

“Gympie Regional Council has put in, about a year ago, a claim for additional costs which we were able to identify, according to an invitation from the government.

“The costs of things like information technology, amalgamation procedures and libraries have been among them.

“It was quite a substantial effort to detail these costs and put in a claim but here we are after two years of amalgamation, still waiting,” he said.

Meanwhile, council says the current rates bills should be no different from the last lot, as they are only the rates and levies for the second half of the year.

“Any differences would be solely the result of differing levels of water consumption, whether more or less,” Cr Dyne said.

Corporate Governance and Finance Committee chairman Donna Neilson told council’s general meeting there had been no increase in rates in the current notices.

“Ratepayers who have increased their water consumption may find that reflected in the total but those whose water consumption has decreased will have a lower total,” she said.

Local Government Minister Desley Boyle has urged councils “to keep focused on the job at hand” to “bring more benefits online.”

She said amalgamated councils had also had to deal with the global financial crisis.

Gympie Times

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