Cootamundra Shire looks ahead

The State Government has appointed a delegate who will hold a public inquiry in Cootamundra next month to take submissions on the Cootamundra and Gundagai merger.

Last month, despite a Cootamundra and Harden merger being declared ‘fit’ under the Fit for the Future model, it was announced our local shire would join with Gundagai. 

This news shocked council staff and councillors both in Cootamundra and Gundagai.

Left reeling, Cootamundra is now taking a proactive stance to move forward.

Council general manager Ken Trethewey said a meeting will be held with Harden shire representatives this week, however Cootamundra will not meet with Gundagai until their shire extends an invitation. 

Gundagai Shire was adamant they wanted to stand alone in the Fit for the Future process and not amalgamate with anyone, following what Gundagai Mayor Ab McAlister said was a mandate from his community.

“It appears the Government has finally made its intention plain and Harden is being amalgamated with Young and Boorowa. That appears to be a fait accompli,” Mr Trethewey said. 

While a date has not yet been scheduled for the public inquiry, local residents can have a say on the merger until February 28 and will be given the means to do so at the inquiry.

Mr Trethewey remains disappointed at the handling of the merger process. 

“We are annoyed by the process that allowed us to waste a year working on something that had obviously been decided by Government a few years ago, but will not waste any more time or effort on arguing the merits of that proposal,” Mr Trethewey said.   

“We need to concentrate our efforts on how to make Cootamundra and Gundagai a successful council as the Government is planning that it will come into existence in mid-2016, that is, with minimum time for us to investigate, plan and put strategies in place,” he continued. 

The Cootamundra Herald has contacted state Member for Cootamundra Katrina Hodgkinson for comment on the merger.