Inner West Independent

Inner West Council: Byrne tables motion

Mayor Darcy Byrne has tabled a new de-amalgamation motion to Councillors. Photo: Facebook/Co.As.It.

By DANIEL LO SURDO

Inner West Mayor Darcy Byrne has tabled a de-amalgamation motion to vote on at Council’s August 25 meeting. 

In the motion, Mr Byrne will gauge Councillors’ support of ‘the direct election of the position of Mayor by citizens rather than the Mayor being elected by Councillors’. 

The motion has been developed in response to a desire for increased participatory democracy in the Inner West Council, which has drawn considerable criticism of late for its politicised motivations and decision-making processes. 

Independent Councillor John Stamolis isn’t convinced about the motion.

“What happens if nine Labor Councillors are elected but the high-profile Green gets to be Mayor,” Stamolis told the Independent

“What happens if you’re partway through a term and [it] becomes very difficult to cooperate with that Mayor … what mechanisms and structures do we have if they’re not performing? These are thoughts that would need really careful study.”

Included in Mr Byrne’s motion are questions based on a potential de-amalgamation which, if it goes ahead, will see Inner West Council abandoned after Leichhardt, Marrickville and Ashfield Councils were amalgamated by the NSW Government in 2016. Councillors will be polled on their support for the State to guarantee the costs of a potential de-amalgamation to restore the former Leichhardt, Marrickville and Ashfield Local Government Areas (LGA). 

The People Decide

After an extraordinary Council Meeting in May, it was decided that residents would have their say on de-amalgamation, with the Inner West being asked to convey their thoughts on de-amalgamation at the Local Elections on December 4. 

Mr Byrne, the last Mayor of Leichhardt Council, pledges to support the de-amalgamation should the community favour the split. He presently stands against de-amalgamation, with fears of the ratepayer-sourced cost leaning the Inner West Mayor to the status quo. 

A cost-benefit analysis of a potential de-amalgamation of Inner West Council, conducted by Morrison Low, found that one-off costs of de-amalgamation would be $26.2 million, while the net cost of ongoing costs and benefits would total $22.1 million. One-off costs largely relate to information technology, transition and established arrangements through expenses of elections, recruitment and redundancies, whilst ongoing costs will result from changes to services and amenities over the past five years.

It was also found that de-amalgamation would result in an average gain of $266 in rates across the three reformed councils. 

Despite the cost-benefit analysis findings, tides of de-amalgamation remain strong in the community, which largely wish to see the Inner West LGA split back into three. 

The de-amalgamation vote will occur on the same day as the Local Elections, December 4.  

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