The NSW Government Local Boundaries Commission has submitted its report to Minister Wendy Tuckerman regarding the potential de-amalgamation of the Cootamundra-Gundagai Regional Council.

The report was prepared after a second round of public hearings were held in Cootamundra and Gundagai in April this year, with the vast majority of people supporting the demerger.

Outgoing Local Boundaries Commission Chairman Bob Sendt, provided Minister Tuckerman with the report earlier this week which recommended the demerger of Cootamundra-Gundagai Regional Council.

“I have received and published the Local Government Boundaries Commission reports on the proposed demerger of Cootamundra-Gundagai Regional Council,” Minister Tuckerman said.

“In line with my statutory obligations, I will now consider the recommendations from the independent Commission and respond to the demerger proposal in due course.

“The Government must provide a written response to the recommendations from the Commission within 28 days of receiving the reports.

“I would like to thank Commissioners Bob Sendt and Lesley Furneaux-Cook for their service and contribution to the Commission and the community.

“Mr Sendt has made the decision to step down as Chairperson of the Commission and Ms Furneaux-Cook’s term on the Commission has now concluded.”

The Times spoke to CGRC Mayor Charlie Sheahan on Friday after it was confirmed Tuckerman received the report, saying that he and the council were pleased with the recommendation.

“The feelings of the community we’re well expressed in the report and it’s good to see that the Boundaries Commission has acknowledged that and has come up with a recommendation to demerge,” Sheahan said.

“It’s a very important first step and we’re quite happy with it. Minister Tuckerman has 28 days to make a decision and the report will be a very important aspect of it.

“I’m taking the position that I want myself and the council to be proactive. We’ll sit down and start working out a plan around how we demerge and take that to the Minister for reassurance that we’re happy to work together with the government to achieve this instead of sitting back and making it purely a political decision.”

Mayor Sheahan made contact with Minister Tuckerman following the Boundaries Commission report going public and is planning on meeting with her in person in Sydney next week.

“I want to go up and actually take something positive from my councillors here. I already sent a message around and I want to sit around and table and start brainstorming some way of providing a roadmap that would clearly represent the community’s decisions and work through the issues of separating the assets and staff,” he said.

The recent damning CGRC report exposing the council of overspending in the last five years is one issue that Mayor Sheahan said was exacerbated with a merged council.

“When you look at the merged council, managing the finance was difficult because we were servicing two communities,” Sheahan explained.

“When we were servicing communities, it was always a constant, ‘well if they’ve got that, we want this’, and we were copping a lot of pressure in trying to maintain budgets and keeping the communities happy.

“In actual fact, demerging probably creates a better financial situation where each community, instead of competing against each other, can take responsibility for their financial position and expenditures that they go through.

“I see it as a positive thing that the financial futures of each town can be taken full control of and be managed accordingly.”

Tim Warren