Merge councils before next election: ratepayers

THE state government needs to ditch its policy of no forced council amalgamations and make a decision before the 2016 local government elections, according to 300 Cabonne ratepayers. 

Cabonne East Ratepayers Association chairperson Bill Trimmer wrote to the Independent Local Government Review Panel, and Local Government Minister Don Page, requesting Orange, Cabonne and Blayney be referred to the boundary commission earlier than 2017, which was the date flagged by the panel.

He wants the boundary commission to align its findings with the next council election.

Orange councillor, and former Cabonne mayor, Kevin Duffy agreed, saying it would ensure all constituents were equally represented should there be a merger.

In January, the panel recommended Cabonne, Blayney and Orange be amalgamated.

But it would not be a forced amalgamation, instead incentives and penalties would be used to encourage the merger.

Mr Page gave people until March 7 to respond to the findings, despite the panel inviting submissions during the 12-month consultative process.

Mr Trimmer said the decision had been delayed long enough and it was time for the government to take a tough stance.

“A lot of ratepayers are suffering while this is going on... it makes sense to do it before the elections,” he said. 

About 300 people signed Mr Trimmer’s petition, calling for the area to be referred to the boundary commission earlier. 

He said it was not fair a farming ratepayer on Cabonne’s side of the fence paid more rates than they would on the Orange side. 

“We don’t care if [rates] go up we just want them to be equal,” he said. 

The Cabonne East Ratepayers Association first lodged a submission to join with Orange City Council in 2011.

Residents wanted the right to vote in Orange and hold civic office as an Orange councillor.

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