Were mergers really making councils 'fit for future'?
While it was unavoidable for the State Government to appoint an interim administrator to manage the Central Coast Council for the next three months, given Council's debt of $89 million, for me a major concern is that the State Government may try to extend its tentacles further into local government.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported on October 31 that 19 of the 20 super, merged councils have lost money since the merger and chronically underperformed compared to the remaining 108 NSW councils that weren't forced to merge.
Consulting firm, LSI Consulting, which reviewed the performance of councils for three decades and provided consulting to find efficiencies, concluded that: "Mismanagement, a lack of transparency and inefficiencies due to a failure to control costs and understand efficiencies and productivity, sums up what's going wrong with councils," LSI principal Mr Ian Fahy said.
Perhaps the merger impositions were more a case of political extension by State Government over local government and local communities to further their state agendas, rather than a well-researched exercise into making councils more fit for the future and less financially dependent on the state government.
Email, 13 Nov 2020
Suraya Coorey, Woy Woy