Tumut and Tumbarumba councils will be forcibly merged, despite Tumut council’s desire to stand alone and overwhelming merger opposition in Tumbarumba.
The state government has confirmed Tumut and Tumbarumba have been unsuccessful in their attempts to avoid amalgamation, with the two shires to form the Snowy Valleys Council.
The new entity will have nine councillors for a population of 14,950, with state MP Daryl Maguire saying Paul Sullivan would act as administrator of the council and Tumut’s Bob Stewart interim manager.
Ahead of a 12.30pm press conference announcing the changes, Mr Maguire spoke to The Times confirming details of the merge.
He said the decision and process has been a difficult one but a decision has now been finalised.
“The decision’s been made. Obviously Tumut’s preferred position was to stand alone but I think there’s real opportunity for future of the new merged entity,” he said.
“Ultimately this will bring benefits to the community, beginning with $15m so the new council can address future needs and infrastructure. Employment has been protected and there will be nine new councillors and I have great confidence in the community to elect leaders that will allow the new council to deliver better outcomes for ratepayers and the community.”
“It’s been difficult, let’s not mince words, it’s been very difficult but I am confident in the ability of our community and leaders within the community to step up.”
Mr Maguire and Tumbarumba’s state member Greg Aplin said there would be no loss of service or local voice.
The decision comes after months of division between the two councils and communities, with Tumbarumba council and community highly critical of Tumut’s initial pro-merger stance and later backflip.
Mr Maguire said the current councils would soon be dissolved and an interim council formed.
A interim entity is expected to be formed to lead the merged entity until September 2017, the local government election date for councils involved in mergers.
The majority of Tumut councillors have put forward expressions of interest to be a part of the new or caretaker entity, after a letter was sent to all councillors statewide asking them to reapply for their job. Cr Cross and Pritchard both refused to, calling the letter undemocratic, though Cr Cross said he has since applied. All Tumbarumba councillors refused to reply to the letter, labelling it offensive.
Full coverage including both council’s views and where to from here, in tonight’s edition of the TATimes.