From Hilltops Council – Matthew Stadtmiller
The merger of our former Councils in 2016 by the Baird Liberal National State Government was opposed by many in the broader community and a majority of elected members of their respective Councils.
Five years on the merger remains a cause of dissatisfaction and conflict within our communities and a continuing source of distraction and disunity within our current Council as it labours to consolidate and complete, the complex requirements, both social and economic, of the merger process.
A motion to hold a poll should be supported by current Councillors before the next election.
The motion will provide clarity for the incoming Councillors concerning the views of constituents on this fundamental issue of community support and allow them to make informed decisions around how the Council positions itself to best serve the community.
The communities of Tumbarumba and Gundagai have fought and won the right to a Boundaries Commission review of their merged councils. The merged Council of Gundagai Cootamundra have unanimously resolved to support the demerger of their own Council. Community members in the former Young, Harden and Boorowa Councils, and those in Guyra, Sydney’s Inner West, Holroyd and Northern beaches, among others, are all active in seeking to demerge.
The Local Government ACT 1993 -Section 14 states that “A Council may take a poll of electors for its information and guidance on any matter.”
The results of a poll are not binding but will provide our new Councillors with a current understanding of the views of the community. Under the legislation the poll questions must be answered by a Yes or No. It is understood that a Council resolution is required by end of October to allow for the timing of the election processes.
There will be a minimum financial impact to Council if the poll is held in conjunction with the Council elections. This small financial impact is minor when compared to accumulated deficit over the last 5 years of more than $45 million dollars.
Residents and ratepayers must be allowed their say and Councillors should take note.
To read the full column, please visit our website at hilltopsphoenix.com.au
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