A proposal to demerge Snowy Valleys Council will be assessed by the Local Government Boundaries Commission.
On Tuesday morning, Local Government Shelley Hancock referred the elector proposals concerning the Snowy Valleys Council to the commission for formal assessment.
She also referred a proposal to unwind the Cootamundra-Gundagai Regional Council to the Boundaries Commission.
“I have made the decision following extensive public exhibition of the proposals which resulted in a combined 1,550 submissions being lodged by the local community and councils,” Ms Hancock said.
There were 533 submissions received in relation to the Snowy Valleys, and 1017 in relation to Cootamundra-Gundagai.
“I have directed the Boundaries Commission, an independent statutory authority, to hold a public inquiry as part of the process,” she said.
“The Boundaries Commission will now follow its own processes in accordance with the Local Government Act.
“It is required to have regard to a range of factors in assessing the proposals including financial advantages/disadvantages, the local community and geographic cohesion, attitude of residents and ratepayers, and any impact on council operations and staff.
“The Boundaries Commission will then provide me with statutory reports for consideration before I decide whether to recommend implementation of the proposals to the Governor.”
Member for Wagga Wagga Dr Joe McGirr welcomed Minister Hancock’s announcement.
“The boundary commission referral will allow for a much needed independent review of the merger process for the Snowy Valleys Local Government Area, which I believe has put an intolerable strain on the council,” Dr McGirr said.
“This has in turn, affected residents living in the former Tumut and Tumbarumba shires, who have expressed their concerns with me on numerous occasions.
“As Snowy Valleys Council works to rebuild in the Dunns Road Bushfire aftermath, it will need the state government’s ongoing support to ensure this review process does not distract from recovery efforts.”
Neil Hamilton of Save Tumbarumba Shire said that the Tumbarumba community is very pleased that Minister Hancock has referred the issue to the Boundaries Commission.
“It has been a festering sore ever since the merger occurred, and the Minister has listened to the views of the community,” he said.
“We look forward to a very rapid inquiry, and we look forward to talking to the commissioners and making sure that they understand the issues that are at play rather than just hearing from the Council.
“It’s very clear that the community is now in very deep crisis and this issue needs to be solved as soon as possible for the wellbeing of all of the people of the shire, both in Tumut and in Tumbarumba.
“This is not just a Tumbarumba issue, this is an issue for the entire shire and the incompetence of the council is now a major, major threat to the future of this entire region.
“We need to have a de-merger as soon as possible, and given that the Boundaries Commission made a recommendation to the government prior to the merger that the merger not proceed unless the interests of the people of the southern half of the new shire were taken into account, we believe that they’re likely to come to the same conclusion, because the situation is much worse and there is ample evidence to show that this merger has completely failed.”