The State Government has announced that Councillors of merged (amalgamated) Councils will need to apply for a variety of roles when their Council is merged mid-year.
When Councils are amalgamated an Administrator will replace elected Councillors until the next election in March 2017.
Councilors have until April 15 to apply for various roles under the control of the Administrator. These include:
- Councillor on new Council
- Member of a Local Representative Committee
- Member of an Implementation Advisory Group
This move by the State Government is generally unprecedented. It smacks of a ‘jobs for friends’ of the Government. Incumbency in Local Government is a distinct advantage come election time.
Between the amalgamation of a Council until the next election, the Administrator performs all the functions of the Mayor and Councillors. Will former politically aligned Mayors or Councilors be favoured as Administrators for some Councils?
Perhaps the strangest job would be that of a Councillor on the merged Council under the control of an Administrator. They would no longer be involved in the oversight of the day-to-day operations of the new Council.However, the Government has suggested some other activities. They have recommended that the newly merged Council:
Establish collaborative working arrangements within, and preferably between, councils. It will be particularly beneficial for councils working together to form a working group or committee to lead preparation for a potential merger. This could include councillors and/or senior cross-organisational representation from all councils working together. A transition working group could be chaired by one of the General Managers or Mayors for the entirety of the preparation phase—or by each of the General Managers or Mayors on a rotating basis. A transition working group or committee could have a range of functions, including overseeing: • preparation of an Interim Transition Plan • preparation and initial delivery of communication and engagement plans for the community and staff • preparation of an Information and Communications Technology Plan • a wide range of due diligence activities. Councils may also want to form sub committees focused on preparing for key areas like human resources or finance.
Source: Preparing for Change: Guidance for Councils, NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet, February 2016.