OBJECTIONS to the proposed council merger have come from far and wide, however some concerns have been made about the decision to spend $200,000 on fighting the amalgamation.
The Tomaree Residents and Ratepayers Association (TRRA) said it found the proposal put forward by the NSW Government to be “totally inadequate and unconvincing” but also had serious concerns about the decision to spend “ratepayers’ money to return the status quo”.
“The decision by Port Stephens Council to appropriate $200,000 of ratepayers’ money for a public information campaign and an [externally prepared] submission to fight the merger would have been better spent on a full independent study on the pros and cons of a merger, based on the true state of the accounts,” said TRRA vice president Dick Appelby.
He said the group also had concerns about the council’s financial viability to stand alone.
“The TRRA also has serious doubts … specifically about the accuracy and interpretation of some of the information included in the IPART Fit for the Future report. TRRA will be bringing these concerns to the relevant parties in the near future.”
Kate Washington has also blasted both the merger proposal and the decision to spend the $200,000.
“If the motive was to remove certain elected officials from local government then that is something we could have taken care of ourselves at the polls,” she said.
Mayor Bruce Mackenzie said he was confident the council was operating within approved guidelines.
“We have a highly professional GM who says we weren't acting outside the guidelines and I'll be guided by him, not Kate Washington or anybody else.”