The proposed amalgamation of North Sydney and Willoughby Councils has unearthed a number of aspects of each Council’s operations that might prove problematic for a merged entity.
The new Council will be faced with deciding how they can provide a range of services to a combined population in an equitable manner. As can be seen below, there is often quite a divergence in current services. In an amalgamated environment will everyone move to the highest level of service or will the lower level be the common denominator? (Time will tell).
Whilst both Councils are of similar size (71K NS c.f 74K W) the population density is quite different (68per ha NS c.f 33 per ha W). This is also reflected in the housing type. North Sydney has twice the number of people living in medium and high density and one third the number living in separate houses.
Willoughby has 211 km of roads c.f North Sydney with 152 kms.
One of the biggest difference is that North Sydney has a single library (Stanton) compared to Willoughby that has the central library at Chatswood plus 6 satellite libraries. Similarly, Willoughby has twice the number of public halls to North Sydney (including The Concourse).
Of concern to North Sydney residents is that curently have their verges mown by Council. Not so in Willoughby. North Sydney also prides itself on its ‘Precinct Sytem’ they fund and the fact that they have Committeeswith Citizen Representation. Most of Willoughby’s Committees with citizen representation are advisory only. North Sydney also claims to have an Open Government Policy (and says Willoughby doesn’t).
When it comes to Residential Rates the average in North Sydney is $513 pa c.f $829 pa in Willoughby. Similarly, Willoughby’s fees for domestic rates are nearly twice that of North Sydney (yet North Sydney can provide 25 free clean-up collections compared to Willoughby’s four).
We could have the best of both worlds & with lower rates.