Last night we held an Extraordinary Council Meeting to consider the City's submission to "Fit for the Future", the NSW Government's scheme to slash the number of local councils.
Council endorsed the City's submission that we are fit for the future and should not be amalgamated.
Late last year, the NSW Government launched its Fit for the Future local government review process, designed to reduce the number of councils in NSW. The Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) has been tasked with reviewing all council proposals, which are due by 30 June 2015. I called last night's Extraordinary Council Meeting to discuss our submission to IPART.
The NSW Government's Proposal
The Government has proposed the creation of a 'mega-council' for the City to include Botany Bay, Randwick, Sydney, Waverley and Woollahra - a local government area with a population of over 500,000 (the size of the state of Tasmania), but with no increased responsibility or authority. None of the councils or local communities involved support the proposal.
The NSW Government has not produced any evidenced that amalgamations lead to better efficiencies or financial outcomes - our evidence shows an amalgamation of the City will negatively impact on the state's economy.
Our submission demonstrates that the City has scale and capacity to deliver for our local residential and business communities, and for global Sydney, in partnership with the State Government.
This is in line with what the vast majority of our local community wants. A statistically sound, random survey carried out by an independent company on behalf of the City found overwhelming opposition to a larger City of Sydney council area.
What's at risk?
We were amalgamated in 2004 so we know they take three to five years to be fully complete. During that time a significant focus of the organisation must be on the actual amalgamation itself, rather than fully focusing on delivering projects, infrastructure and services.
The impact of another City amalgamation at this current time would put hundreds of millions of private investment at risk and impact negatively on Sydney's future prosperity and the NSW economy.
A decline in construction activity of just one per cent over the next decade due to disruption or delays would have a negative economic impact in excess of $300 million.
We are "Fit"
Leading independent financial auditors PricewaterhouseCoopers have said that the City is a "benchmark against which other councils could be compared" and the NSW Government's own Treasury Corporation (T-Corp) rate the City's finances as "strong" with a "positive outlook" - the only NSW council to receive this rating.
In the last eleven years the City has:
- Approved development worth $24 billion;
- Seen 2,000 new businesses open and 50,000 new jobs created - 40 per cent of all jobs growth in Sydney metro was in our area;
- Overseen the completion of 8,000 homes in the five years to June 2014, with a further 17,600 approved, but not yet complete;
- Upgraded 57 unused laneways with a network of plazas where shops and bars thrive;
- Invested more than $34M every year in the entertainment and cultural life of our city;
- Provided over 1,000 childcare places, with work being fast tracked to provide another six childcare centres by 2016;
- Upgraded 105 parks;
- Fostered new business sectors leading to 90 small bars, 20 food trucks and 24,000 car share members;
- Completed over 250 major projects including playgrounds, childcare, pools, libraries, theatres, community and cultural spaces - more than any other NSW council - we're now working on 370 as part of our ten-year plan;
- Won over 85 awards for the design excellence and sustainability of our projects; and
- Supported the NSW Government's homeless services with a $14 million investment over 10 years.
Read my Lord Mayor Minute, endorsed by the Council, here: http://www.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/council/about-council/meetings/calendar-and-business-papers-2015/2015/june/extraordinary-council