Fit For the Future - Merge Proposal

Fit For the Future - Merge Proposal

What are the key dates for the "Merger Proposal" consultation process?

  • Tuesday 19th January 2016 - Council is meeting with the state government appointed Delegate 
  • Wednesday 20th January 2016 - A public meeting will be held at the St Georges Basin Country Club from 7pm
  • Thursday 21st January 2016 - Council is holding a meeting with our Community Consultative Body Executives to discuss the merger proposal
  • Monday 25th January 2016 - There will be an Extraordinary Meeting of Council to discuss the merger proposal
  • Wednesday 3rd February 2016 - A Public Inquiry will be held by the delegate. There are three locations for the Inquiry which have been set by the delegate:
    • 9am-12noon  Kiama Leagues Club-109 Terralong Street, Kiama
    • 2pm-5pm  Shoalhaven Ex-Servicemen’s Club-157 Junction Street, Nowra
    • 7pm-10pm  Kiama Leagues Club-109 Terralong Street,  Kiama

To speak at any of the Public Inquiry meetings you must register with the Council Boundary Review.

  • Sunday 28th February - Submissions close

How can I make a Submission to the State Government?

Submissions can be made online at or

Direct to the delegate

Submissions are now open and close on the 28th Feburary 2016 at 5pm.

How can I read Council's Discussion Paper ?

To help our community understand the merger proposal a discussion paper has been prepared.

Read the discussion paper

What is the merger proposal?

Since the original announcement in December the Government, on 6th January’16, has released the more detailed Proposal and can be viewed at:

It should be noted that Council is seeking some clarification of some of the financial information in the Proposal document to confirm its source. It is also noted that the Proposal refers to 2013/14 financial data however some of the analysis in this Discussion paper has sourced data from the more recent 2014/15 Financial Statements of each council for comparative purposes.

Greg Wright has been appointed as the ‘delegate’ to conduct the public inquiry and when a date is advised for the public meeting it will be publicised on the website above.

Previously other documents had also been released -  Fit for the Future Progress report (PDF, 7MB).

The Local Government Reform: Merger Impacts and Analysis (PDF, 6MB) also outlines the Government's case for the amalgamation process.

For further information about the process you can also view the Government's website which is now live:

Who is Council's delegate ?

Shoalhaven Council and Kiama Council's delegate is Greg Wright. Greg is the Principal of Wrightassociates and has extensive experience in the local government sector through his role as former General Manager for Camden Council and as interim General Manager for Broken Hill City Council, where he prepared the council for significant cultural and financial changes. During his career, Greg developed a new outcomes performance agreement for council General Managers and was appointed Administrator of Central Darling Shire Council, returning the council to surplus. Greg has held the position of Chair for the Macarthur Credit Union Ltd since 2003.  

He is responsible for:

  • convening a public inquiry (public meeting) and this is expected sometime during the 1st two weeks of February.

  • facilitating the public meetings where members of the public and council will be able to make their presentations.

  • reviewing submissions

  • completing a report to the Minister & Boundaries Commission which will also be made public.

What does the delegate need to consider ?

  • The financial advantages or disadvantages to the residents and ratepayers;

  • The community of interest and geographic cohesion;

  • The existing historical and traditional values in the existing areas and the impact of change on them;

  • The attitude of the residents and ratepayers of the areas;

  • The requirements of the area concerned in relation to elected representation for residents and ratepayers at the local level;

  • The impact on the ability of the councils of the areas concerned to provide adequate, equitable and appropriate services and facilities;

  • The impact on the employment of the staff;

  • The impact on rural communities;

  • The desirability (or otherwise) of dividing the resulting area or areas into wards;

  • The need to ensure that the opinions of each of the diverse communities of the resulting area or areas are effectively represented; and

Such other factors as it considers relevant to the provisions of efficient and effective local government in the existing and proposed new areas.

What is the comparision between Kiama Municipal Council and Shoalhaven City Council  ?

The following table shows some comparative data & statistics of Shoalhaven & Kiama Councils:








The Urban area of Nowra-Bomaderry is larger than Kiama having a population of (2011 CENSUS) 32,881.

Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander population



Both councils support advisory committees to discuss key issues of services and employment for Aboriginal people.

Average taxable income (2010)



On average, Kiama households have over 20% more disposable household income than Shoalhaven making it more affordable to meet costs of rates & charges.

Average Residential Rates (2013/14)



Average residential rates are 45% higher in Kiama which allows for higher levels of services such as parks and gardens, street-sweeping and general maintenance.IF Shoalhaven residential rates were lifted to similar levels it would result in over $20M additional revenue each year for better maintenance and services.However it should be noted that the State Government announced a “four year rates freeze on current path” so rates will only increase by the rate-pegging limit and Not be increased by the additional 15% that was in Council’s ‘fit for the future’ application to IPART.This means that even accounting for the $10M grant from the State as part of the merger proposal Council will forego $21M in increased rates leaving a shortfall of $11M to renew and maintain infrastructure or provide services.

Average Domestic Waste Annual Charge



Kiama provide a green bin service which results in a higher overall charge.

No of Councillors



IF the merger proceeds there will be a reduction in the number of councillors, possibly 13 for the whole merged area.This would reduce the costs of councillors.

No of Councillors/population



If there were only 13 councillors for the whole area then there would be 1 councillor per 9,230 population (approx.), a significant increase on current ratios, especially for Kiama.

Full Time Equivalent Staff



Keep in mind that Shoalhaven has well over 100 employees in the Water and Wastewater operations whilst Kiama has many staff employed in the Aged Care Retirement facility.

Population Density/capita/sq km



With almost 70% of Shoalhaven area being National Park, State Forest or other Crown Land, the population density is much lower.

% of Pensioners (Residential rates)



A higher proportion of pensioners in Shoalhaven contributes (slightly) to the lower average household income.

Unemployment Rate (Sept ’15 ABS & Department of Employment)



Employment generation is a much higher need within the Shoalhaven.

No of public swimming pools



Number of facilities provided compared to population would indicate a vast difference in service provision between the two existing councils.

No of public halls



Number of facilities provided compared to population would indicate a vast difference in service provision between the two existing councils.

No of public libraries



Number of facilities provided compared to population would indicate a vast difference in service provision between the two existing councils.

Companion Animals microchipped



This is an indicator of workload drivers for Animal Management Officers.

Open Public Space area



An indicator of size and scale of operations.

Total Road length



An indicator of size and scale of operations.

No of Active Businesses



An indicator of size and scale of operations.

Outstanding Rates & Charges 2014/15



This is a significant difference that could be a result of several factors including:Shoalhaven’s policy of NOT taking legal action to recover outstanding rates from pensioners.Levels of household income disparity & landowners capacity to pay rates.

Governance & Administration Expenditure/capita



As a general principle it would be expected that costs per capita diminish as size increases - refer to the “economies of scale” factor.

Environmental Expenditure/capita



Could imply that service levels are relatively similar in both councils.

Community Services & Amenities, Housing & Education Expenditure/capita



Disparity needs clarification however is most likely a result of the Aged Care Retirement Services provided by Kiama - a service NOT provided by Shoalhaven.

Recreation & Culture Expenditure/capita



40% higher expenditure in Kiama (which is a similar comparison to the residential rates paid) indicating either more facilities per capita OR higher service levels OR a combination of both.

Public Order, Safety & Health Expenditure/capita



Shoalhaven has high needs in the Emergency Services area particularly Rural Fire Services with significant areas of Bushfire Prone lands.

Library Service/capita



Indicator of much higher service levels in Kiama.

Why is this merger proposal occuring ?  

In 2014 the NSW Government released the Fit for the Future- Local Government reform package. This required that Councils demonstrate how they would meet four criteria:

  • financial sustainability
  • service and infrastructure management
  • efficiency
  • scale and capacity.

Councils were required to provide a submission to the NSW Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal (IPART) by June 2015 outlining their 'roadmap' to be 'Fit for the Future'.

Over the past two years Council has acted to address its financial situation and the delivery of better services to support these initiatives through the commencement of the Transformation Program and the special rate variation. This has laid the foundation for an organisation that will be sustainable into the future and a city that will be vibrant and activated in line with the Community Strategic Plan. This is outlined in our 10 year financial roadmap.

Further information is available regarding Local Government reform.

Was Council determined to be Fit for the Future?

Yes - Council was deemed to be "Fit for the Future". We were deemed as being financially sustainable and capable of planning for the future. We were also assessed as having sufficient size and capacity to stand alone. In fact Shoalhaven City is the largest regional Council (based on population) outside the Newcastle-Sydney-Wollongong strip.

Information about this finding can be viewed at:


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