Premier Mike Baird announced the findings of the report into local government on Tuesday. The report claims that more than $2 billion could be saved over the next 20 years if the number of councils in NSW was reduced.
Mr Baird made it clear that in inaction was not an option, “For many councils this is a final opportunity to do the right thing for the future of their communities, which in many cases may include merging with neighbouring councils.”
The Government is offering councils a thirty day deadline to respond to the report and make a decision on their future. The State Government has the power for force local council mergers. The report was produced by the Independent Pricing & Regulatory Tribunal, which regulates local council rates.
Liverpool Council is not strictly opposed to a merger. It rejected the suggestion of merging with Fairfield Council, as it would not generate as much cost savings as a merger with Campbelltown & Camden Councils to create a super council covering all of South West Sydney.
Within its submission it claimed is would save $243 million over ten years if it merged with Campbelltown & Camden rather than just $64 million if they merged with Fairfield.
However, that option appears unlikely with the report giving the green light to Camden standing alone. It was one of the few in the state to meet the required benchmarks. Campbelltown while has been classified as unfit on financial sustainability, the report “has not identified evidence for a better alternative to the council’s proposal to stand alone”.
Liverpool would have a larger population than Campbelltown or Camden in 2031 but it was deemed not to have the “sufficient size to effectively manage the high growth corridor in south western Sydney”.
Fairfield Council rejected outright the option to merge. However, the report disagreed claiming that the “council did not demonstrate its proposal to stand alone would be as good as or better” than proposed merger option.
According to community consultation run by the council more than 91% questioned opposed a merger with Liverpool.
The changes are due to be in place prior to next year council elections.