State Governments backflip on reimbursement of amalgamation preparation costs

MEDIA RELEASE

Waverley Council is disappointed by the State Governments backflip to reimburse preparation costs for the proposed Local Government amalgamations.

On the 27 July, the State Government announced all proposed mergers would not proceed which included Waverley with Woollahra and Randwick Councils.

In August, Council wrote to the Office of Local Government formally requesting a reimbursement of $1,068,996 for the merger preparation costs.

Recently, Waverley Council received a letter from the Minister for Local Government indicating that under the NSW Government’s New Council Implementation Fund Guidelines, funds are not to be used for merger costs incurred prior to the commencement of the new council.

Mayor of Waverley John Wakefield said the State Government communicated consistently that merger costs would be reimbursed up to $10 million per merged Council.

“The Government backflipped on amalgamations, and now Waverley’s ratepayers are out of pocket over one million dollars.

“Even though there was community opposition to the proposed merger, our staff worked with the staff of neighbouring Councils to prepare for a smooth transition and to minimise negative impact on the community.

“The State Government made it clear that mergers were to happen as quickly as possible so we allocated significant resources to prepare.

“Following their backflip in July we are now rightly asking for the return of costs directly incurred. Given that a major budget allocation had previously been made by the State Government to cover these merger costs, the State Government’s decision is very unfair.

“The ratepayers of Waverley have been forced to pay for the mistakes made by the State Government and it has cost ratepayers more than $1 million. It’s very disappointing.” Mayor Wakefield said.