PORT Stephens Council has prepared a 64 page report that makes a compelling case for a merger with Dungog.
The document will compliment a formal application to the Boundaries Commission to have a formal review of a Port Stephens-Dungog merger.
This is Port Stephens Council’s second preference should it not be allowed to stand alone.
Councillors supported the idea unanimously as a mayoral minute last Tuesday night, as an alternative to a merger with Newcastle.
“I think this is out ticket out of jail,” Cr John Nell said.
“And in the long term it would safeguard Port Stephens against any further mergers.”
Cr Paul Le Mottee said the Port Stephens-Newcastle option was an embarrassment.
“We need to look at this as a face-saver for the government,” he said.
The report, complied with assistance from Morrison Low, finds that a Port Stephens-Dungog merger would cost $2.4 million over nine years. This compares to an estimated $4.7 million to merge Dungog and Maitland, or $7.4 million to merger Port Stephens and Newcastle.
The report highlights the similarities between Port Stephens and Dungog that both have sparsely occupied areas serviced by high speed rural roads.
If merged the Dungog-Port Stephens would include three of Hunter Water’s major dams; Lostock, Chichester and Grahamstown.
The report notes that the Raymond Terrace administration centre would be somewhat centrally located.
From Raymond Terrace to Dungog is 50kms (46 minutes); Gresford to Raymond Terrace is 50.5kms (45 minutes). By comparison, Raymond Terrace to Fingal Bay is 50.1kms (50 minutes).
But the report argues the Dungog Shire premises would need to be retained as a service centre so that plant equipment could be stored there for greater efficiency.
The mayor of Port Stephens, Bruce MacKenzie, was expected to sit down with Dungog councillors on Tuesday evening, after the Examiner went to press.
“I think we’ve got more to offer Dungog than Maitland,” he said.