OUR SAY: Councillors wait for next stage of merger process

AN extended period of stability in local government in Orange is likely to be replaced, some time soon, by a period of great change.

But when that happens, of course, is the big question.

John Davis’s re-election as mayor at last week’s Orange City Council meeting came as no surprise.

Councillor Davis was re-elected unopposed while councillor Jason Hamling was successful in his bid to fill the deputy mayor’s post.

Both men have served on council for an extended period of time, as have several of their fellow public servants.

Say what you will about the many of the same faces being elected year in, year out: it has created an undeniable stability to local council proceedings in the city, with the successful launch of the new Orange Regional Museum a highlight of the past term.

But after the stability will come the change.

The NSW Government has made it clear it intends to go ahead with its merger of Orange, Blayney Shire Council and Cabonne Council if Cabonne’s legal challenge to the amalgamation is unsuccessful.

A decision has been pending for some time and must be getting close.

If Cabonne’s challenge is unsuccessful, that will lead to the dissolving of Orange, Blayney and Cabonne councils, the creation of a merged entity, the appointment of an administrator.

This will be followed by a long wait – possibly for almost a year – for elections for the new entity.

And which councillors will want to be part of that new entity, or will want to get back into local government after having some time away from it, is anyone’s guess.

Orange has been given a preview of this process at nearby Dubbo, which has been merged with neighbour Wellington to form Dubbo Regional Council (after a period as Western Plains Regional Council).

It must be a strange time for Orange councillors, who are now serving for longer than they would have imagined when they were elected but who also have no idea how much longer their term of service will continue.

There are many questions for the future of Orange City Council as this merger process rolls on.

Hopefully some answers will soon be supplied so our councillors – incoming and outgoing – can plan accordingly.

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