Media Release: The Central Coast Greens call for a popular vote on de-amalgamation

The Central Coast Greens call for a popular vote on de-amalgamation to allow the community to indicate whether or not they support returning to the former Wyong and Gosford Local Government Areas. (LGAs).

The push for the amalgamation of Wyong and Gosford Councils lacked a popular mandate and has angered locals –  resentment is still present in our community today.

If a poll determines that the community wishes to de-amalgamate, we believe the State Government should commit to a de-amalgamation and guarantee to cover the costs. The administrator’s asset sale programme includes the Council building in Gosford City on the list of properties to be liquidated. Until the community has had its say regarding a possible de-amalgamation, the Central Coast Greens call for the sale of the Gosford Council offices’ to be immediately put on hold.

“ The State Government and its ill-conceived amalgamated Council have badly let down all Central Coast residents. Any situation resulting in the Council’s CEO or Mayor having to appeal to the Local Government Minister for financial assistance to meet staff and creditor obligations is shocking and completely unacceptable, says Budgewoi candidate, former Wyong Shire Councillor and one-time Deputy Mayor Sue Wynn.

“During my time on Council, we managed to get Wyong Shire Council into the black through good financial management while also being prepared to make unpalatable financial decisions in the interest of future financial sustainability, so the current debacle is particularly galling.

The Central Coast Greens call on the Coalition State Government to accept some ownership for the amalgamation’s financial consequences by reimbursing all amalgamation costs. The initial estimate of $20 million does not even cover the cost of integrating the two IT systems of the two former Councils. So far, we have heard reports from Central Coast Council staff that estimate the amalgamation costs as upwards of $80 million.

NSW Local Government minister Shelley Hancock has refused to provide any state government financial assistance. Interest bills from commercial market loans totalling $150 million taken out by the administrator now further burden the Central Coast Council’s budget. This additional interest cost is entirely unnecessary, and the Central Coast Greens call to the Local Government minister is for her government to at the very least offset these interest costs.

“The Coalition state government has a moral obligation to provide assistance to save Central Coast residents any further unnecessary spending. The Minister, via the NSW Treasury, could have provided interest-free loans to Central Coast Council. Instead, it has forced ratepayers to incur additional costs the loans taken out by the Administrator.”