What is Fit For the Future?
The NSW State Government is currently undertaking major reform of Local Government in NSW. This reform will result in major changes to Councils across the state.
The purpose of this summary is to highlight the important aspects of what has happened to date and why, as well as what the future could hold for Cootamundra Shire Council.
In 2011 the NSW Government and Councils across NSW agreed that there was a need to improve how communities were serviced and represented at the local level. In response to this the NSW Government commissioned an audit of the financial position and asset management practices of Councils across NSW, what Councils are responsible for, the maintenance and rebuilding costs for Council owned assets, and the level of services the Council owned and managed asset provided.
An Independent Panel was commissioned to broadly review the Local Government sector and provide recommendations to the Government on what Local Government should look like into the future.
The Independent Panel provided their report to the Government and the Government announced the “Fit for the Future Initiative”.
The report developed by the Government is a series of benchmarks for Councils to be measured against that will determine whether or not they are sustainable in the long term or “Fit for the Future”. The benchmarks are mostly financial measures with an additional measure of “scale and capacity”. Each Council was required to deliver a submission by 30 June 2015 on how they will become “Fit for the Future”.
Council’s response to Fit for the Future
Cootamundra Council accepted that the State Government was seeking structural reform of Local Government and worked hard to ensure that our community would get the best possible outcome. Council undertook an extensive investigation including community consultation and the preparation of a comprehensive business plan, and ultimately submitted a merger proposal with Harden Shire Council.
The merger proposal was submitted to the State Government, and IPART assessed the submission, deeming the merger proposal as “fit.” The merger with Harden Council satisfied the criteria that was set:
Scale and capacity
Infrastructure service management
Deemed “Fit” by IPART.
There were only four merger proposals submitted across NSW.
The State government has now considered the IPART report and delivered a contrary recommendation, to amalgamate Cootamundra with Gundagai. Council services and programs will continue business as usual.