Dungog Shire Council waits on answers from State Government about merger

Dungog Shire Council is still waiting on a definitive response to questions a delegation posed to the Deputy Premier John Barilaro in a meeting earlier this month.

Mayor Harold Johnston said he felt there had been “not much preparation” for the meeting about the council’s future despite the Deputy Premier’s office having had a written copy of the questions for some weeks.

The delegation posed a series of six questions, mainly relating to funding available to the council as a merged or stand alone council.

“The general drift was there would be no special consideration for Dungog, or for other councils in our position,” said Cr Johnston.

“We are now waiting on the formal reply to the questions.”

Cr Johnston said after nine years as Mayor it was “unlikely” he would run again at the September 9 Local Government elections.

He said the amalgamation issue had been a difficult time for both the staff and the community.

“This predicament is not of the council’s making,” he said

“This has occupied my mind all my waking hours and some of the hours when I should have been asleep, for five and a half years.”

“The goalposts keep changing. 

“What started out as an evidence-based idea with a whole bunch of bench marks that the government set, a lot of councils were found not fit and Dungog was one of them.

“Now it’s a political exercise.”

The council is set to discuss the council amalgamation issue at an extraordinary meeting on May 1 to be held at the Doug Walters Pavilion from 6pm. The meeting is being held at a larger venue than the council chambers to cater for the anticipated large public gallery.