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RAMROC says no to council mergers

The Riverina and Murray Regional Organisation of Councils has proposed conducting a pilot study to prove its current structure works.

May 7, 2014 3:45am

The Riverina and Murray Regional Organisation of Councils has officially rejected recommendations of council mergers within its region.

In its submission on the NSW Government’s Revitalising Local Government initiative, RAMROC has said it will ‘‘inform the minister that it sees no purpose or benefit in pursuing the panel’s proposals and recommendations for mergers and boundary changes in the RAMROC region’’.

RAMROC is instead suggesting it be allowed to retain its current structure.

In doing so, RAMROC has officially opposed the recommendation that smaller ‘joint organisation’ of councils be formed.

In its submission, prepared by RAMROC executive officer Ray Stubbs, RAMROC says it should continue as normal and has proposed conducting a pilot study to prove it will work.

‘‘The strong view of councils collectively is that the existing 18 member council RAMROC structure has been very effective for many years and is therefore, by record of performance and successful collaboration between member councils, now considered to be the most appropriate model to transition into the new roles and functions of the joint organisations as recommended by the review panel,’’ Mr Stubbs says in the submission.

‘‘It would be counterproductive to diminish the strength of the current model, particularly the advocacy and government relations roles that have worked well, very much through the strength of numbers and excellent co-operation.

‘‘RAMROC has already demonstrated its flexibility to manage issues on a sub-regional basis as the situation warrants, particularly in areas such as resource sharing.

‘‘It has flexibility in form and function that best matches the needs of specific sub-regional areas at any point of time or as a particular situation requires.’’

RAMROC has suggested the new organisation be called the Murray and Murrumbidgee Joint Organisation (MAMJO) and still include all 18 member councils.

With the review panel already specifying the RAMROC region is too large to manage, RAMROC has developed three separate models on how the structure could work.

In the first two models councils are split into sub-regions of Upper Murray, Mid Murray and Lower Murray, with Berrigan and Jerilderie proposed to be in one of either the upper or mid sections.

A third model is based on geography, splitting Berrigan and Jerilderie into a Murray group with 10 other councils and the remaining eight in the Murrumbidgee region.

Each model will include a board of mayors, general managers’ advisory group and a specialist officer taskforce group.

Berrigan Shire Mayor Bernard Curtin said the models and requested funding for the pilot study were meant to be discussed in person with Minister for Local Government Don Page at last Wednesday’s RAMROC meeting, which was shifted from Albury to Jerilderie once it was revealed the minister was unable to attend.

Mr Page was removed from the NSW Government cabinet by new Premier Mike Baird a week earlier and replaced by new front-bencher Paul Toole.

‘‘Regarding the suggestion of joint organisations, we want to wait and see what the new minister’s views are,’’ Cr Curtin said.

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