De-amalgamation referendum called for

Suspended Central Coast Councilors

Forum –

We, Mannering Park Progress, wish to express our utter contempt and despair over the parlous state of Central Coast Council’s financial situation.

Prior to our largely pressured amalgamation with Gosford City Council, Wyong Shire Council was in a relatively healthy financial position with a credit of about $20M, while also building our own Art House without any grants.

Wyong Shire Council ratepayers had been subject to significant special rate rises over the previous four years to make sure that we were both solvent and able to deliver services.

We know that Council cannot do it all, the rate base is too small and the area’s too large so expectations must be carefully managed.

Cost shifting by the State Government, now standing at $45M, is also a considerable drain on Council finances.

This is where grants are essential to our Council and must always be allocated on need for equity to be maintained.

We now find ourselves about $89M in arrears and too much work to be done.

While the forensic audit will be very useful in discovering the root cause for the current financial state, it will also have to provide plans to move forward.

This plan will, as needs must, include severe cost cutting.

Over the past four and a half years, (former) Wyong Shire residents have paid more for their rates than (former) Gosford City residents.

This was to commence alignment after the Council elections which were deferred for another 12 months.

So, in reality, it will be a minimum of nine years that (former) Wyong Shire residents will have paid a higher premium for the same service than (former) Gosford City Council residents.

This is grossly unfair and another indication of poor planning around this enforced amalgamation.

We, in the far north, despair that items which we have been working towards for almost 40 years and could see being so tantalisingly close, will now be abandoned under the name of austerity and pushed off to the nebulous never never.

It is absolutely disheartening and frustrating.

We feel totally removed from Gosford and certainly not part of that section of the Central Coast.

We feel disenfranchised from our councillors as they are dealing with too much and are, and have been, over burdened with the complexity of the transition and their removal from home territory.

Where five councillors used to represent us, it is now three, so we have lost 40 percent of our representation.

We, therefore, urge the NSW Government to put a referendum at the next Council elections on de-amalgamation.

Our new Central Coast Council has delivered us nothing but misery, no economies of scale, no better or improved services and, to add insult to injury, a higher rate bill year on year than our southern counterparts.

The Council area, with its fragile coastal environment, intendant waterways and massive road infrastructure, is simply too big.

Then, just to put the icing on the cake, we find ourselves in dire economic circumstances.

This is totally unacceptable to us, and we demand a referendum that has been denied to us by this Government.

We believe that, if we had been able to have a referendum prior to amalgamation, it would never have proceeded.

There is no amalgamated council in NSW that is not in the red.

We know that there are plenty of cases of successful de-amalgamations, notably around the Sunshine Coast, but also elsewhere, so there is certainly an appetite and a blueprint for such a process to proceed.

Email, Nov 10
Kel Wynn, President
Mannering Park Progress

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