COUNCIL amalgamations in regional NSW would result in job cuts not cost savings for residents, according to Orange deputy mayor Jeff Whitton.
Cr Whitton’s comments follow the release of the NSW auditor-general’s report calling for changes to the Local Government Act.
A comparison of all states in the report, reveals NSW has more councils than any other state with 152.
NSW only reduced its local government areas by 14 per cent between 1990 and 2010, compared to Victoria, which more than halved the number of councils to 79.
Both South Australia and Queensland reduced council numbers in the same 10-year period by 45 per cent.
Tasmania and the Northern Territory cut councils by 37 and 27 per cent respectively.
Western Australia was the only state to increase local government areas by a small 1 per cent margin.
Cr Whitton said he wouldn’t support any amalgamation with either Cabonne or Blayney as it would not be cost-justified.
“It would have a major impact on ratepayers of these three councils,” he said.
“We struggle to maintain our own roads.”
While money would be saved on staff wages initially, Cr Whitton said in the long run the savings would be burnt up by the extra cost in providing services to a larger geographical area.
“The idea of amalgamation is to cut down [council staff] head numbers, but you’d need more people to look after it,” he said.
“For the smaller villages, Molong, Canowindra and even Blayney, the impact of amalgamations for job losses would be one hundred-fold for what it would be in metropolitan areas.
“They can’t just find another job ... it’s a different thing in regional areas.”
Cr Whitton said the size of regional NSW would make many amalgamations ineffective.
“One of the big issues for local government is, the majority of income is rateable income,” he said.
“The bigger you are doesn’t mean you’re better off in the monetary point of view.”
Cr Whitton said suggestions from Blayney and Cabonne councillors that their councils should take over parts of Orange were absurd.
“It’s a protectionist type of model,” he said.
“They’re more worried about protecting their own jobs.”
Despite his opposition to amalgamations, Cr Whitton did not rule out boundary changes.