The council has decided to investigate whether it’s worth getting involved in a bigger “super group” of New England councils.
At its meeting on Thursday night, some scepticism was expressed about whether it should band together with other authorities to increase their collective clout.
Deputy Mayor, Carol Sparks said: “It’s another layer of government which we can’t really afford. It’s another layer of bureaucracy and it’s going to cost us.”
But she added: “I’m undecided.”
The proposal follows new laws from the NSW government that would allow the voluntary creation of a New England Group of Councils to give greater collective clout short of a merger.
Some money has been promised for participation in the new body but the council’s General Manager, Hein Basson, said that how much wasn’t clear. The pool of funds available would be diluted, with less for each council, the more who participated.
There would be a permanent staff, and that might mean a salary of hundreds of thousands of dollars for the “Executive Officer”.
At the moment, there is an informal arrangement where council leaders from across the region meet every three months to discuss matters of common interest, but this current New England Group of Councils, as it’s called, is very low-key.
The councils likely to form the grouping would be Armidale Regional, Glen Innes Severn, Gwydir, Inverell, Moree Plains, Tenterfield and Uralla. These already cooperate and share information as occasion arises but the new grouping would be much more formal and have legal status.
The decision at the council meeting was to sound out other councils and investigate what the gains and losses would be before making a decision probably early in the new year.