The State Government will clarify the costs and processes of councils de-almagation under new legislation introduced in Parliament this week.
Local Government Minister Ron Hoenig says the new legislation will remove a major roadblock to council de-amalgamations and ensure local democracy is enshrined in the decision-making process.
The legislation will repeal the legally flawed section 218CC of the Act and replaces it with a clear and democratic process, he said.
In contrast, Local Government NSW president Darriea Turley said the Government’s decision not to fund de-amalgamations will make it virtually impossible for councils to de-amalgamate.
“It’s very disappointing that councils should have to carry the financial burden of unravelling amalgamated councils which were forced on the community by the previous Coalition Government,” she said.
“Our communities did not want these amalgamations which were foisted on them, yet now they are being expected to pay to return to the former status quo.”
Greens MLC, Dr Amanda Cohn had in late 2023 introduced a Bill in Parliament which would allow binding plebiscites to be held in relation to the de-amalgamation of local councils that would be funded by the NSW Government.
That bill was expected to be debated in March.
“Instead, this proposed legislation takes councils one step forward legally but two steps back because of the financial burden it poses for them to fund their own de-amalgamation,” she said.
Central Coast Council came into being in May 2016 with the amalgamation of the Gosford and Wyong councils.
It was under administration until the first councillors were elected in September 2017.
The Coast went into administration again on October 31, 2020 after a financial crisis was flagged by the then CEO earlier that month.
The councillors were sacked on St Patricks Day 2022 after a public inquiry held them primarily responsible for the financial mismanagement.
The Coast will vote for 15 new councillors in five wards in September of this year and, at those elections, we are being asked to vote on whether we want to drop the number to nine councillors in three wards from 2028.
The screenshot shows the process to de-amalgamation.