Amalgamation may have hurt council's financial fitness
PAST amalgamation may hinder the Clarence Valley Council's chance of being declared fit for the future by IPART on June 30, according to a University of New England professor said.
Brian Dollery, a professor in Economics and the directory of the UNE Centre for Local Government, said on average merged councils do slightly worse than un-amalgamated councils.
"In April 2012 there was an assessment of the CVC post amalgamation," he said.
"It was critical of CVC's financial position. It was reported it had a substantial infrastructure backlog, and it was getting bigger.
"If you looked at the 10-year forecast of CVC in 2012, it was a long story of deficits."
Dr Dollery said the cost of amalgamation had not helped.
"It's not surprising CVC has gone for special rates (8% rise for next five years)," he said.
"It is very expensive to amalgamate.
"The initial cost to amalgamate is about $8 million You could fix a lot of roads with $8 million."
Dr Dollery said amalgamated councils also had to wait three years before making people redundant.
"The Baird Government wants to amalgamate even more," he said.
"It begs the question, what kind of policy makers want to do something over and over again that doesn't work."
However, former CVC and Maclean Shire Council mayor Ian Tiley, who works closely with Dr Dollery as the UNE Centre for Local Government deputy director, disagrees.
Dr Tiley wrote Australian Local Government Council Amalgamations: A Case Study of Clarence Valley Council in 2012 for his doctorate thesis, which showed CVC performed slightly better as an amalgamated council.
He said even with the expenses of the amalgamation, CVC performed better financially than when it was five separate councils.
"In terms of local democracy there was a discontent," he said.
Dr Tiley said CVC was not in the mix for another amalgamation.
"What has been suggested is a joint organisation with the Coffs Harbour and Bellingen councils to share services."
He also said there was also good reason for the rates increase.
"The rate increase needs to address the infrastructure backlog. That's the message they've got to deliver to the people."