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Mergers rejected

Berrigan Shire Council is one of six southern Riverina councils calling for further reviews of local government before proposed restructure.

TONI BRIENT February 19, 2014 9:12am

Berrigan Shire Council is one of six southern Riverina councils calling for further reviews of local government in the region before the NSW Government makes a decision on the sector’s restructuring.

The move follows the release of the Independent Local Government Review Panel’s final report last month.

The NSW Government last year commissioned the study to identify options to rescue financially strained councils and ensure the organisations’ sustainability into the future.

On Wednesday, Deniliquin Council hosted a meeting with representatives from Berrigan, Conargo, Jerilderie, Murray and Wakool councils to discuss the report.

Berrigan Shire Council general manager Rowan Perkins said the councils decided to call on the government to fund a second study in the region.

He said there was strong support.

‘‘Of those 53 resolutions, there were probably quite a few that were actually supported by all councils,’’ Mr Perkins said.

‘‘In relation to specific mergers and boundary realignments, none of the councils there supported that.’’

In its report, the panel also recommended the establishment of joint organisations to co-ordinate the councils in regional groups.

Mr Perkins said the Southern Riverina councils decided at the meeting last week it would be better to stick with the current regional body Riverina and Murray Regional Organisation of Councils. He said the proposed joint organisations would include all the districts present at the meeting, but if amalgamations took place there would be only two councils in the group.

Mr Perkins said the diversity in Riverina and Murray Regional Organisation of Councils was important.

‘‘It includes larger and smaller councils so there’s a better opportunity for those councils to share experience and capacity,’’ he said.

Riverina and Murray Regional Organisation of Councils executive officer Ray Stubbs said the second study would allow the councils to provide a strong case for retaining existing structures of governance. He said the second study was necessary because the first hadn’t examined the detailed operations of the Regional Organisation of Councils.

‘‘They haven’t tested them out, either,’’ Mr Stubbs said.

‘‘That’s their view, and we’ve got our view.

‘‘There’s possibly some merit in the panel’s view.

‘‘But we believe we have an effective, strong ROC with strong anchor points.’’

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