Warrumbungle Shire Council is one of many Local Government Areas from across the state that have been deemed not “Fit for the Future” by the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART).
Tasked by the NSW Government to assess 139 Fit for the Future proposals, the IPART report released on Tuesday, 20 October, lists 60 per cent of NSW councils as “not fit”.
The proposals were assessed against criteria including scale and capacity, financial sustainability, infrastructure and service management, and efficiency.
While Warrumbungle Shire satisfied the scale and capacity section, they did not meet all financial criteria.
Warrumbungle Shire Council mayor, Peter Shinton, said he was shocked with the decision.
“It appears that lot of the problem was in the area of sustainability, which is linked to Financial Assistance Grants,” Cr Shinton explained.
“However, we were given no other option than to apply as a stand alone council in a joint organisation.
“Even the final report states - ‘our analysis has not identified evidence for a better alternative to the council’s proposal to stand alone’ - so what are we supposed to think?”
In a stroke of luck, Warrumbungle Shire’s director of corporate and community services, Stefan Murru, and chief financial officer, Lawrence Amato, were both in Sydney when the report was handed down and were able to secure a meeting with IPART on Wednesday, 21 October.
Cr Shinton said he was hopeful the decision could be reversed.
“There is no appeal mechanism, but perhaps we might be able to supply more information to change our status.
“Maybe we should have strived a bit harder in our submission to show that we can make tough decisions if things start to go toes up.
“We’re big enough to survive.”
Cr Shinton did not believe an amalgamation was on the cards.
A map of NSW indicating the Local Government Areas that have been deemed not “Fit for the Future” by IPART.