Merger draining cash

No saving yet only struggle over unfair boundary reshuffle

FORCED council mergers by the State Government in 2016, were aimed at saving ratepayers millions of dollars however many of the promised benefits have yet to materialise leaving Cumberland Council searching for ways to cut costs.
Now servicing a population of more than 240,000 residents, Cumberland was created from the former Holroyd and Auburn Councils, and the Woodville Ward of the former Parramatta City Council.
However the boundary changes left Cumberland without some potentially lucrative business and industrial areas particularly in Lidcombe, Silverwater and Wentworth Point, leading critics to accuse the State Government of setting up the new local government area to fail.
A council spokesperson said a $6.2 million loss in the last financial year’s recurrent budget was due to a range of factors “such as lower revenue received from development applications and additional costs for waste disposal”.
“A report is being prepared about our financial situation and will propose measures to return Cumberland City Council to surplus. This report is due to be finalised in the near future.”
Since the amalgamation, the council has employed 532 new staff, however a spokesperson said that included vacancies for 322 employees who had left their jobs.
“These positions include a mix of permanent staff and temporary fixed-term contracts,” she said.
“Since the amalgamation process began, a number of different systems have been harmonised and we have been restructuring the council.
“This has involved a period of staff rationalisation and we acknowledge that this will be an ongoing process.
“The council is working to achieve savings in the long-term and our focus is on a ‘back to basics’ approach to ensure that our resources are spent on council services that are important to the community.”