ORANGE City Council will be forced to say where it stands on council amalgamations and boundary changes, Orange mayor John Davis said, as other western region councils move to shore up their positions ahead of a major review of local government.
The Independent Local Government Review Panel will meet with Centroc councils including Orange on February 28 to discuss future changes.
Orange councillors will be briefed about the review and council will then make a submission to the panel before the March 22 deadline.
Cr Davis said councillors and staff had never discussed where the council stood when it came to absorbing parts of neighbouring council areas, instead he said the focus had always been on getting Orange into its good financial situation.
But, he said the landscape had started to change.
“I’ve certainly been to a number of meetings where numerous councillors from councils in the western area have been speaking to each other about proposed changes and that will force Orange City Council in the near future to have a meeting, update the councillors and come up with our own position,” he said.
“We need to sit down and have a brainstorm session in regards to what is best for Orange and best for our region.”
Cr Davis acknowledged the opinions on amalgamations or change of boundaries varied.
He would not say if the council should push to absorb parts of Cabonne or Blayney, but as Orange’s nearest neighbours he said the other two areas would be a talking point.
Infrastructure NSW chair Nick Greiner told a meeting in Dubbo last week there needed to be dramatic improvement in the major efficiency of local government, Cr Davis said.
Cr Davis said the changes to councils were unlikely to go as hard as rumours the state’s 152 councils would be amalgamated into 19 super councils.
“But it will go harder than putting in new boundaries five kilometres from outside the current ones,” he said.
Councillor Glenn Taylor believes the local government review is “code for widespread amalgamations” despite the government’s promises there would be no forced changes.
He said he would hate to see Orange, Blayney and Cabonne combine but believes Cabonne will be “in for a rough time” with Cudal and Molong going to Orange, Eugowra joining a combined Forbes/Parkes council area and Yeoval going to a combined Dubbo/Wellington council.
Cr Taylor said there would be a strong case for Orange to pick up Millthorpe from the Blayney Shire and could even take Blayney, and Carcoar.
But he remained opposed to forced amalgamations.
“It should be co-operative, councils play vitally important roles in villages with employment and income to keep villages alive,” he said.
But Cr Davis said he does not believe Orange will be forced into dramatic changes and most people realised local government could be done better.
“Local government has grown up in the last 10 years and is not quite as parochial,” he said.