Hands up if you reckon the southern Shoalhaven gets a raw deal – if, like the Woodburn resident pictured, you are fed up with the state of local roads. Do you get the feeling the bulk of council resources tend to end up closer to the centre of power, which at the moment is Nowra?
If you answered yes, then tonight – Wednesday, February 10 – you need to get down to the Ulladulla Civic Centre for the public meeting on the proposed merger of Shoalhaven and Kiama councils.
There, you will hear an array of compelling arguments against the proposal, which council itself has finally come out and said is “unworkable” in its present form.
You’ll hear all about the potential erosion of representation, the likelihood of a big spike in rates after a four-year freeze that could up your bills by 50 per cent and the risk to the region’s identity as the second most popular destination in NSW after Sydney.
You’ll hear that the figures presented in the government’s proposal don’t stack up and will likely create a vast budgetary black hole down the track.
You’ll be told how Shoalhaven Water – a utility that delivers a $2.5 million annual dividend to council – will in all likelihood by subsumed by Sydney Water, meaning the good folk of Milton-Ulladulla will have their water supply controlled by a remote bureaucracy based in the big smoke three hours up the highway.
But the main thing that ought to grab your attention is the prospect services and maintenance provided by Shoalhaven City Council will be severely diluted in an expanded local government area.
If you think the potholes are bad now, consider what will happen if the new council area takes two-and-a-half to traverse from end to the other.
Shoalhaven City is already challenged meeting its obligations to keep local roads safe and well maintained. The prospect of adding to this already far flung territory has been described as a logistical nightmare not only for the provision of services but also for councillors whose travel time will be increased exponentially.
So it’s important residents and ratepayers hear all the arguments and engage with the merger process. Wednesday’s meeting is not an official one but if it’s like one held recently in Sanctuary Point, it is bound to generate concern and motivate people to present written and verbal submissions.
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