Shortly after Channel 9 reported the General Manager salaries and resident populations, as well as the pro- and anti-amalgamation arguments, in Hunters Hill Council’s meeting on Monday 23rd May 2016, the revised 2015/16 deficit was advised to have blown out from $276K to $667K (without the costs of current legal action). In the same meeting, Council resolved to commit an estimated $100K (unless the Australian Electoral Commission offers to pay for it) to hold a plebiscite on the specific amalgamation of Ryde, Hunters Hill, and Lane Cove councils (only).
Channel 9 News story: GM salaries vs resident populations & arguments for/against amalgamation
Less than 2 hours before the start of last night’s Council meeting, Channel 9 broadcast this story. It was a concise snapshot of the pro- and anti-amalgamation arguments, and contains interesting view of the cost of providing General Managers to small resident populations.
The revised expected deficit from Hunters Hill Council for the 2015/16 year, included in the long term financial plan provided to last night’s Council meeting, has gone from $276K deficit to $667K deficit.
The new estimated deficit is understood not to include the costs of legal action currently being taken against the state government, for which the costs were reported in the same meeting to have blow out from the estimated $150K+ to now upto $200K, excluding the cost award against Council if we lose the case – which is expected to have less than a 50% chance of success.
The deficit for the 15/16 year is also understood not to make provision for the plebiscite resolved during the meeting.
Unavailable to the public at the time of drafting this update, the Report and Motion can be viewed at:
The plebiscite motion was included by way of Mayoral Minute, with Mayor Quinn using his authority to table the minute for which Councillors had no formal prior notice – learning of it upon arrival at council chambers as described by Councillor Miles. At the time of reading the minute to the meeting Mayor Quinn spoke of calling local federal and state MP’s Zimmerman and Roberts to advise them of the motion, and Councillor Miles observed that Councillors who were to vote on the actual motion were not advised of it in advance by similar phone call – or at least he was not. It is not known if any Councillors were given advance notice by telephone, of the plebiscite motion to be moved by Mayoral Minute.
No Councillor spoke against the principal of holding a plebiscite. Councillors Miles and Bird spoke of the need for reasonable time to consider the matter fully before committing to such a serious undertaking; of the importance of the wording of the question to be put; and of the fiscal responsibility of such a commitment given the legal action pending. The plebiscite motion sought to give the public a voice only on the specific question of amalgamating Ryde, Lane Cove, and Hunters Hill Council areas. Despite the $100K expenditure, no other combination or local government reform is to be considered. The Motion was carried 5-2 with the support of Mayor Quinn, Deputy Mayor Clr McLaughlin, Clr Dr Sheil, Clr Astridge, and Clr Bennett.
The results of Gladesville Community Group’s survey of public opinions of Council’s handling of Fit For The Future is available at:
Gladesville Community Group has been disappointed at the lack of ‘open-question’ consultation of the public about our preferred form and size of Local Government. We feel that the failure to openly and properly investigate the possibility of amalgamating Hunters Hill and Lane Cove Council areas, a solution advocated by our survey respondents, is a loss to the local community.
Boundaries Commission Delegate report
The Boundaries Commission Delegate’s report considered the JRA, among other relevant issues, and is available at the link below. It is well worth a read. Some of the government’s proposed mergers were identified by such reports as not appropriate to proceed, lending credibility to the process. Foreseeably, it was identified that residents of the existing Hunters Hill Council Local Government Area (LGA), the smallest in NSW, will benefit from amalgamation.