Councils reject amalgamation

THE three councils of the high country have rejected calls for amalgamation.

Cooma-Monaro, Bombala Shire and Snowy River Shire will present a united voice to the Independent Local Government Review Panel to remain autonomous.

It comes after the panel released its final report 'Revitalising Local Government' in January, pointing to a merger of Bombala Council with Cooma-Monaro and Snowy River.

The report rates the three councils as having a high 'merger potential'.

At a recent meeting of the High Plains Forum, the council's three mayors and general managers discussed the issue, agreeing they wanted to maintain the status quo.

They believe that the economic and social advantages are greater for the three councils to remain autonomous in governance matters.

Bombala mayor Bob Stewart said his council was comfortable under the existing model, and felt that the High Plains Forum should respond to the government as a united front for the Monaro looking at the best governance model for the Monaro region.

He advocated the continuation and further development of the concept of resource sharing between councils within the Monaro region.

The three councils already have allegiances with one another in sharing resources such as libraries, weeds management and risk management.

Cooma-Monaro mayor Dean Lynch suggested that the state government funds an independent officer or consultant to progress the shared services and then look at comparative options in three years' time.

A report that came before Cooma council at its meeting on Monday detailing the meeting and submission to the review panel stated that, "The consensus was that there is a need, not only from a community perspective but in terms of cost effective best practice, to progress true resource sharing and quantify the outcome benefits before any proposed Panel amalgamations are contemplated."

The details of the submission to the panel came before council for decision on Monday night.

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