De-amalgamation of Cootamundra-Gundagai Regional Council could have been finished by now if it hadn't been for Covid-19, according to Professor Jospeh Drew.
Professor Drew, who helped the council prepare its submission to the Boundaries Commission, said the pain of rates harmonisation could have been avoided if the de-amalgamation had taken place before the end of the financial year, which it could have except for the legal requirement for a public meeting to be held before the Minister can make her final decision.
He believes the Boundaries Commission will have to recommend in favour of de-amalgamation, based on the business case and the problems that have resulted and the facts that respond to the legislation.
"I can't see any other sensible conclusion," he said.
"As it is now, I don't think anyone knows when it will happen.
"The whole world's on hold because of Covid and it's quite frustrating.
"It's no-one's fault, but it's disappointing because if it had got done this financial year it would've saved a lot of stress and money.
"It's costing money the longer it drags on and if you're going to de-amalgamate the sooner you do it the better."
Although he recognised that a further public meeting was a legal requirement, he said personally, he couldn't see the point of it.
"Everyone made it crystal clear what they wanted in those surveys.
"People's opinions are important, but the Minister's not going to make her decision solely on a meeting.
"I think she knew before she started what the people want. The law doesn't say how many people must attend, so why not just have a public meeting and limit it to 20, or 50, and get the thing out of the way?"
FOUR YEARS IN A BUBBLE
Professor Drew said sudden changes about to affect some ratepayers have been an unavoidable result of amalgamation.
"People who could lose a lot are not going to be happy, and I wouldn't be either.
"But this is the reality of amalgamation. You can't have it without harmonising fees and rates.
"People lose money, people lose wealth."
Because of the State government deferral of harmonisation, the communities have been living in a bubble for four years, he said.
Deferring it until after the State election made it easier for the government to get voted back in, but created an illusion in the population where they were getting new infrastructure for no extra charges.
"The pain seems much worse now because for four years there were no bad consequences of amalgamation. Now you've got the bad consequences you should have got when amalgamation first happened."