Committed to Lachlan-Staff forego $2 million in benefits to ‘Keep Lachlan Local’

Robert Hunt, General Manager of Lachlan Shire, is committed to keeping Lachlan Shire from amalgamation.

Lachlan shire Mayor, John Medcalf,  is standing up for the Lachlan Shire to ‘stand alone’ into the future.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Melissa Blewitt

Lachlan Shire Council staff have chosen to forego $2 million in benefits in a bid to keep Lachlan local.

Employees agreed to forego a significant benefit in their Enterprise Agreement, worth $2 million over eight years, in a final attempt to demonstrate to the State Government that the Lachlan Shire should stand alone.

In the recent Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) report LSC was deemed not “fit for the future” due to scale and capacity as it has a projected population of less than 10,000.

This is despite LSC meeting the various other financial, infrastructure and efficiency criteria.

The Report also questioned Council’s ability to provide cost effective services with such a small population.

“Council staff should be congratulated on making this decision to ensure LSC does provide cost effective services and to enable additional funding from these savings to be allocated to new infrastructure for the benefit of the community,” Mayor John Medcalf said.

“Staff have supported this reduction in working conditions knowing that in a recent independent community survey over 68 per cent of the community supported a 33 per cent rate rise over four years, commencing next financial year.

“This clearly demonstrates to the NSW Minister for Local Government the commitment and dedication that local people have to keeping “Lachlan Local” and not merging with another council area.

“LSC should not be compared to city or regional centres. We are a rural and remote Local Government area servicing a highly productive agricultural region and providing services to our communities above and beyond what is usually expected of a council, including maintenance of the largest road network of any council in NSW, a mobile long day care service to remote villages, medical centre facilities, a retirement village/nursing home, indoor sports centre and home and community care services.

“Council provides these services as this is what our locals require to ensure their needs, or the needs of their family, are met.”

Council will formulate a response to the IPART report findings and submit that response to the Office of Local Government on Wednesday, 18 November. LSC expects a final decision from the NSW State Government before Christmas.

NSW Govt to shore up Condo’s water supply

The NSW State Government has pledged almost $4 million in funding for Condobolin’s town water supply.

• Lachlan Shire Mayor Des Manwaring accepting a cheque for $3,900,000 from Minister for Water, Kevin Humphries. LP

By Lara Pearce

The NSW State Government has pledged almost $4 million in funding for Condobolin’s town water supply.

Minister for Water, Kevin Humphries, was in Condobolin on Monday, where he presented Lachlan Shire Mayor, Des Manwaring, with a cheque for $3,900,000. The money will be used to build three new bores to ensure Condobolin’s water supply during future dry periods.

The Mayor gratefully accepted the cheque. “We have a bore close to town but it only produces about a [megalitre] a day,” Clr Manwaring explained. “A few years ago, the river actually stopped running and that created a lot of problems.”

This is the first stage of a $12.2 million water supply project for the town.

“This project will help to improve economic growth and productivity in the region,” Mr Humphries said.

“Condobolin has had a long history of water restrictions. The new bores […] will complement the existing water supply from Goobang Creek.”

“Water is the lifeblood of our regional communities.”

The long-term goal is to extend the pipeline to link up with the regional network supplying towns in the Lachlan river system, if a sufficient amount of water is discovered.

The money is part of the NSW Government’s $366 million Water Security for Regions fund.

Local Government Areas of Walgett, Cobar and Brewarrina also received State Government funding boosts on Monday.

The Mayor of Cobar Lilliane Brady received just over $1 million. The Mayor of Brewarrina, Angelo Pippos, accepted a cheque for $320,000 for emergency water backup, and the Mayor of Walgett, David Lane, received just under $2 million for regional roads.

Mr Humphries noted that the road developments would also have flow-on benefits for the Lachlan Shire in facilitating the more efficient transport of goods.

“Devastating” cuts to Lachlan Shire Council

Local councils in New South Wales will be $288 million worse off under changes announced in the Federal Budget, with the Lachlan Shire and other rural communities predicted to be the hardest hit.

• Lachlan Shire Council Chambers on Molong Street. LP

By Lara Pearce

Local councils in New South Wales will be $288 million worse off under changes announced in the Federal Budget, with the Lachlan Shire and other rural communities predicted to be the hardest hit.

In the Federal Budget last Tuesday, Joe Hockey announced a three year freeze to Federal Government assistance grants to local councils. Rural and regional councils such as Condobolin will be most affected due to their heavy reliance on Federal Government assistance.

The Mayor of Lachlan Shire, Clr Des Manwaring, says he is disappointed with the decision. “Previously [the grant freezes] have only ever been for one year,” he said.

The Mayor noted that only around 25% of the Lachlan Shire Council’s income comes from ratepayers – a much smaller percentage than councils in major centres. “We’ve got a big area and not a lot of population,” he explained. “The Federal Government grants have been reducing in real terms by about 1% per year for the past 20 years, and these reductions will be about another 2.5%, and that doesn’t include inflation.”

“It just means we have got to tighten our belts a bit more. We’re battling to balance our books at the moment, so it will probably mean a reduction in services somewhere along the line.”

Local Government NSW President, Keith Rhoades, condemned the Federal Government’s measures. “A lot of smaller rural councils rely heavily on those Federal Grants. This is a devastating blow for them,” he said.

He also noted that the current system of council rate pegging left the councils with few places to turn.

In NSW, the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal determines the amount by which councils are allowed to increase their rates, and this increase often lags behind inflation. This means council rates can decrease in real terms each year.

“This rates increase is in no way going to make up for what was handed down in the budget,” he said.

The Federal Government has defended the cuts to local councils, instead touting the National Stronger Regions Fund as a major boost for regional communities. Under the scheme, over $1 billion of funds will go towards infrastructure in regional areas across Australia, in line with the Government’s pre-election promise.

“This funding will support priority projects which create jobs and support economic growth in regional Australia,” Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Develop Warren Truss said.

The 294 community projects currently being processed under the Community Development Grants program include $200,000 of funding for a skate park in Cobar, $4 million for a regional museum and cultural square in Orange and airport development in Parkes.

However, none of the projects currently under development in the scheme are in the Lachlan Shire.

Mayor, Clr Des Manwaring, said that councils in rural areas such as the Lachlan Shire had additional services they were expected to provide, without being allocated any additional funding.

“We have the most road of any council in New South Wales – 4,500km of road and no major highway. The only bit of road we don’t have to pay for is between [Condobolin] and Ootha,” he said.“We supply houses and cars for the doctors at the Medical Centre, and we provide the Medical Centre, which has been rent-free up until now. These are things we do to encourage doctors to our towns.”­­

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