Jim Slattery felt the brunt of the shake-ups in the region’s political structure the morning he woke up to find out Cootamundra was being merged with Gundagai and that he was getting sacked due to it.

When Cootamundra was told they had to merge with another council, Slattery wanted to merge with Harden Shire Council, preferably not merge at all, but one of the last locations on the mind of the former mayor was a merger with Gundagai.

Not only do both towns have their differences, but Slattery believes the travel distance between them put the two Councils on a road of inevitable collapse.

Now that the historic demerger has been announced, both Gundagai and Coota prepare for a split but not without the man who was thrown out of his role commenting on the merger that lost him and many of his staff, jobs.

“It was pretty disappointing and, in my opinion, it wasn’t going to work,” said Mr Slattery.

“There were a lot of unhappy people in both towns…. Nothing wrong with the people of Gundagai, they are good citizens.

They probably thought the same of us but we had no say in it.

We were forced into it.

“I think they’ll put two administrators in, one at Gundagai and one in Cootamundra, they’ll sort things out.

“Who owns what, we want that, it’s going to take a lot of working out. It’s not something that will happen overnight.

“I don’t know how many vehicles they’ve got but they’d have a heap between the two Councils…Particularly the big machinery. Who’s going to get them?

That’s where the fights are going to be.

“We’ve been given 24 months to sort things out.

“The first [boundary commission report] said…in their opinion Gundagai won’t be able to stand by themselves.”

The report suggests due to the demerger, Gundagai will struggle financially once the wheels have started turning and the possibility of rate increases is an expected consequence.

Both Councils have gotten what they have been asking for but at a cost that the former mayor believes will create more issues until the sun finally sets on the process of demerging.

“What I can tell you is, the people in Coota are happy about it.”

Although Slattery lost his position in Cootamundra due to the forced merger, he is the one having the last laugh as his scepticism was proven to be a lot more than just hot air.

Jack Murray