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Conargo Shire residents say no to mergers

A survey has revealed majority of Conargo Shire ratepayers are against regional council amalgamations.

TYLA HARRINGTON March 4, 2014 4:15am

A survey conducted by Conargo Shire has shown the majority of its ratepayers are against regional council amalgamations.

Conargo Shire general manager Barry Barlow said results from the survey were collated last week.

Ratepayers were asked whether they support any council mergers or boundary changes, of which 375 people said they were against it and only 36 for it.

The Independent Review Panel’s final report into local government has recommended Conargo Shire merge with Deniliquin Council and Murray Shire, with the possible addition of Wakool Shire.

Mr Barlow said eight people supported Conargo Shire merging with Berrigan Shire, 20 people supported an amalgamation with Murray Shire, 24 with Deniliquin Council, 22 with Wakool Shire and seven with Jerilderie Shire.

The general manager said the results reinforced the shire’s stance on amalgamations.

‘‘The shire is financially viable in the long term,’’ he said.

‘‘The majority of ratepayers want to remain as Conargo Shire and not merge with any other council or shire.

‘‘They believe they receive a good level of service.

‘‘Comments from the survey said other smaller shires who have merged have suffered because they are no longer represented.

‘‘Quite a few comments have come back saying where smaller shires have been involved in amalgamations they have been disadvantaged because they just don’t have the representation.

‘‘We don’t want that for our community.

‘‘There was also discussion made about rates increasing should Conargo Shire form a bigger shire.

‘‘They don’t want any association with amalgamations.’’

Mr Barlow said the survey would now be brought to a council meeting and possibly sent as an additional submission on the Independent Review Panel’s report.

‘‘It reinforces the council’s decision to not support amalgamations,’’ he said.

‘‘What we have to understand is people can say there is a limited population (in Conargo Shire), which is between 1700 and 1800 people, but we have 8500 square kilometres that we service.

‘‘That area not only produces a lot for the region but for Australia.

‘‘It produces a lot of irrigation and is a diverse farming area.

‘‘At the end of the day the ratepayers are who elected council to represent them and we are acting on behalf of our community.’’

Mr Barlow said ratepayers were asked if they support the shire’s operations. He said 394 people said ‘yes’ and only 19 said ‘no’.

A question was also asked whether ratepayers were satisfied with the service being provided by Conargo Shire.

Mr Barlow said 399 people said were happy with their service and only 11 were not.

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