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Proposed amalgamation of Bombala, Cooma-Monaro Shire and Snowy River Shire councils

Bombala, Cooma-Monaro Shire and Snowy River Shire councils all satisfied the majority of IPART's financial criteria as stand-alone councils but failed the arbitrary and ill-defined criteria of “scale and capacity.”

The government claims a forced amalgamation would see a total financial benefit of $33 million over a 20 year period. This figure includes a $20 million grant from the NSW government, which artificially inflates the so-called benefit and is paid for by the taxpayer. The alleged ‘saving’ component is $13 million would be mainly achieved through job cuts to council staff.

The government has chosen to release only selected extracts and a high level summary from the study undertaken by its consultants, KPMG to support these alleged savings. It is impossible for the community to make a full submission on the government's financial case for amalgamation without having access to the complete study for each and every council. What is apparent from the publicly information about the KPMG study is that it:

+ inflates any potential savings from future contracting arrangements in amalgamated councils, especially given the councils already enter into many contracts through Regional Organisation of Council contract tenders when there are identifiable economies of scale from doing so

+ assumes large staff losses in the merged council that will inevitably impact on local services an the local economy

+ grossly underestimates the likely costs to councils from renewing each council's IT infrastructure following the merger

+ fails to consider the very real costs the council and local community will incur with a less responsive and larger council that has less intimate knowledge of local needs

+ ignores the large loss of council staff time and resources in implementing an unwelcome and often unsupported amalgamated council, and

+ has no regard to the informed academic opinions based on detailed empirical studies of past council mergers that proves forced amalgamations typically fail to generate financial sustainability for local councils.

As in much of regional and rural NSW, keeping councils and council jobs can mean the difference between keeping libraries, waste management, road safety and other essential services in local communities.

The proposed merger would dramatically increase the ratio of residents to elected councillors to 2,301 residents per councillor, up from 346 in Bombala, 1,135 in Cooma-Monaro and 1,153 in Snowy River.


More Detailed Financial Material Relevant to Each Council

There are some significant variations between the figures outlined in the Government's proposal and the correct figures as reported in the councils' financial statements.

Bombala: According to the government’s merger proposal, the operating revenue in 2013/14 was $7.8 million. The actual result was $14.5 million in FY 2012/13 and $10.4 million in FY 2013/14. According to the proposal, the operating result in 2013/14 was $(1.3) million. The actual result was $1 million in FY 2012/13 and $(1.5) million in FY 2013/14. According to the proposal, the asset base in 2013/14 was $87.8 million. The actual asset basewas $155.6 million in FY 2012/13 and $155 million FY 2013/14. The proposal states that the infrastructure backlog was 25% in 2013/14, whereas the council’s IPART submission disclosed 14.53%.

Cooma-Monaro: According to the government’s merger proposal, the operating revenue in 2013/14 was $25.8 million. The actual result was $ million in FY 2012/13 and $ million in FY 2013/14. According to the proposal, the operating result in 2013/14 was $(4.9) million, which accords with the actual result. According to the proposal, the asset base in 2013/14 was $223.8 million. The actual asset basewas $446.8 million in FY 2012/13 and $442.6 million FY 2013/14. The proposal states that the infrastructure backlog was 17% in 2013/14, whereas the council’s IPART submission disclosed 1.14%.

Snowy River: According to the government’s merger proposal, the operating revenue in 2013/14 was $25.3 million. The actual result was $30 million in FY 2012/13 and $32.3 million in FY 2013/14. According to the proposal, the operating result in 2013/14 was $0.7 million. The actual result was $0.4 million in FY 2012/13 and $1.5 million in FY 2013/14. According to the proposal, the asset base in 2013/14 was $216 million. The actual asset basewas $410.9 million in FY 2012/13 and $421.8 million FY 2013/14. The proposal states that the infrastructure backlog was 39% in 2013/14, whereas the council’s IPART submission disclosed 42.79%, projected to reduce to 22.72% by 16/17.