Ku-ring-gai and Hornsby Council Amalgamation: How will this affect me?

By December 14, 2016Buying, Local News

The big topic on everyone’s mind this month is the proposed amalgamation between Ku-ring-gai and Hornsby Councils. It’s one of many amalgamations across Sydney and would see these two areas become one, larger council with 270,000 residents.

As of the latest available update, Ku-ring-gai Council is expected to be in court on 23rd November to receive a date for the Court of Appeal to try and stop the amalgamation. But if the councils do end up merging, how is this likely to affect those of us living in the area?

Firstly, let’s consider the practical considerations. An administrator would replace the mayors and councillors, from both councils, until the first election takes place. And much of the services will materially remain the same, with no changes to bin days or library services until proper consultation and notice in the future as needed.

But financially, there are more things to consider. The new councils would be given up to $15 million for new community projects, such as playgrounds and sporting facilities, and up to $10 million to cut red tape and help with administration processes.

Hornsby Council website claims the change will help lower the need for ‘Special Rate Variations’ in both council areas, which has been needed in the past to cover revenue shortfalls.

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And the state government has promised ratepayers that they will pay no more in new rates than under the old council for the next four years. This is good news for those wanting low rates.

It’ll also likely see the number of residents per councillor increase – from 16,000 residents in Hornsby and 12,000 in Ku-ring-gai to 20,000 overall. This is lower than Blacktown Council’s representation, which is at about 21,000 residents per councillor.

But while supporters of amalgamations usually point to increased efficiency and better use of funds across wider areas there are some downsides. Those who are against the amalgamations are often concerned about the watering down of representation of specific communities. The Hornsby/Ku-ring-gai Greens have warned that amalgamations in Queensland and Victoria have resulted in increased rates, stagnated services and less connection between residents and councillors.

In reality, no one will know exactly how they would be affected until the time that it happens – which is still up in the air. There are likely to be positives and negatives for all of the community, but nothing is going to immediately change in the short-term.

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