Council News - Thursday 5 November 2015

Latest News from Mayor Kathy Sajowitz

Continuing to be of major concern is the Fit for the Future issue. As requested by the Minister Paul Toole and Premier Baird, council representatives have now met with Mayor Rush from Bathurst Regional Council and Mayor Maree Statham from Lithgow Council to discuss possible merge options.  Lithgow Council has a resolution that it is their preferred position to “stand alone” but would consider an approach from Oberon to explore what a merge would look like. Mayor Rush outlined his position on a voluntary merge between Oberon and Bathurst Councils. A tentative approach has been made to us by Upper Lachlan Shire Council to assess if a possible merger between our councils could work.

The report on the Parliamentary Enquiry into Local Government was released last Friday. The report is scathing about the “unfit” labels applied to a number of councils based on “unreliable” criteria. In particular, the report recommends that the Government commit to no forced amalgamations for councils unless they are bankrupt or unable to service their communities. That’s an important finding considering even IPART found more than 90% of metropolitan and 75% of non-metropolitan councils met its own financial benchmarks and were financially sustainable.

The Inquiry has handed down a raft of findings and recommendations, and highlights a clear reform path that can be walked collaboratively by the government and the local government sector to deliver strong council’s without the need for amalgamations. The NSW State Government has until April 29 to respond to this report; Premier Baird would hope to have implemented his agenda by then.

You will all have received an invitation to attend a public meeting on November 9th to discuss all options available to the Oberon community to assist with making an informed decision in regards to its future direction. The meeting will be held at the Oberon RSL commencing at 7pm. I urge you all to attend. Due to the limited time specified by the NSW State Government within which we need to respond to the recommendations; this will be the only meeting possible. Whatever your thoughts, whether they be for or against merging with a neighbouring council we need to hear them. If you are unable to attend you can advise either myself or council of your preferred position. 

Council are currently working with transport consultants GTA to develop an active transport plan for Oberon and surrounding village. The purpose of an active transport plan is to help develop facilities such a bike paths, footpaths, pedestrian crossings that encourage people to walk or cycle to work to school or to the shops. An active transport plan also supports walking and cycling for recreation, fitness and social purposes. As part of the consultation process GTA  have a short on line survey run on the survey monkey site which they are asking community members to complete. IF you would like to participate in the survey please go the following link www.surveymonkey.com/r/OberonStudy Please share this link with any of your friends who might be interested in active transport.  Input from families with high school aged children would be particularly useful.

Mayor Kathy Sajowitz