Fairfield City Council is Fit For The Future
Published Tuesday, 30th June 2015
Fairfield City Council submitted its ‘Fit for the Future’ (FFF) proposal to the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) on Tuesday 30 June 2015.
Council has put forward a strong argument to be declared ‘Fit for the Future’ and to remain as a standalone Council.
In October 2014, the State Government released its FFF Reform Package. It required all NSW councils to lodge submissions responding to recommendations put forward by the Independent Local Government Review Panel (ILGRP) relating to amalgamations, scale, capacity and financial criteria. The ILGRP’s preferred option for Fairfield was to amalgamate with Liverpool City Council.
Council resolved at its 23 June Council meeting to remain as a standalone Council rather than amalgamate with Liverpool City Council.
With a population of 203,109, Fairfield City is already a large, financially sustainable Council when compared with other Sydney metropolitan councils.
Fairfield City Council will meet all of the required financial benchmarks. In fact, over the next 10 years Fairfield City Council is stronger against the FFF financial criteria as a standalone council than the amalgamated Council. It will meet all FFF financial benchmarks as a standalone council by 2016/17, with the building and infrastructure renewal ratio being met in 2017/18.
The Scale and Capacity key findings demonstrate that Fairfield City’s standalone position is as good as, and in several instances superior to, the proposed amalgamated council. Scale and Capacity are subjective criteria with no stated performance measures, so the assessment of each council by the IPART will be based on its judgement.
Results of community consultation found that an overwhelming 91% of residents do not support an amalgamation. Fairfield residents are satisfied with the current management and service provision, and are concerned about a loss of local representation and identity as well as increases in rates if the Councils were amalgamated.
The ILGRP’s preferred option for an amalgamation between Fairfield and Liverpool councils was based on the two areas having ‘Close functional interactions and social/economic links’. However, analysis of the ILGRP’s own research report on which this was based shows that Fairfield and Liverpool Cities are quite different with only 7 out of 14 areas of similarity.
Fairfield and Liverpool also have very different and competing community priorities. Liverpool is focussed on urban release areas to its south and development of the Liverpool regional centre, while Fairfield is an established area delivering the services required by its unique community. An amalgamation would put at risk the necessary services to address Fairfield City’s community priorities.
The amalgamation process itself would also significantly impact the community due to the disruption to services involved in bringing two large and very different cities together.
Liverpool City Council also wants to standalone for many of the same reasons as Fairfield City.
IPART has to report to the Minister for Local Government by 16 October 2015 on whether councils are ‘Fit’ or ‘Unfit’. The Government’s intention after that time remains unclear.
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