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Community & Business

3 March, 2022

Gil shire’s February meeting

Gilgandra’s ordinary council meeting was held on Tuesday, February 15, 2022.

By Emily Middleton

Topics discussed are as follows:

Alliance of western councils

A motion was passed that Gilgandra Shire Council would join the ‘Alliance of Western Councils’.


Prior to the implementation of the Orana Joint Organisation (OJO) in June 2018, council was part of the 12 member Orana Regional Organisation of Councils (OROC).

According to mayor Doug Batten, this was a very successful organisation. In the OROC meeting of December 2017, a resolution was passed unanimously that any joint organisation for the orana region should be established to encompass the same footprint. Each member on the council agreed that membership fees should not exceed that currently paid to OROC.

Government intervention and targeted project funding for the far west of the state saw the carving off of the four western OROC member councils, leaving a maximum of eight councils to form the OJO. Two of these councils (Dubbo Regional and Coonamble) declined to join.

At commencement, there were only four councils: Gilgandra, Narromine, Mid- Western Regional and Warrumbungle. Bogan and Warren councils joined in subsequent months which raised the membership to six councils. The structure of OROC was such that as a commit- tee under the auspices of Narromine Shire Council, it was able to serve the 12 member councils for an average cost per council of $15,000 per annum.

The legislation under which the OJO was pro- claimed, necessitated a structure with the governance requirements the same as those which apply to a large regional council. However it was to the extent that the average annual cost for each of the current six member councils was $50,000.

The establishment of the OJO was then underwritten by a one-off grant of $300,000 by the state government. As the inaugural and then chair of the OJO, Doug Batten had made numerous representations both in writ- ing and in person to the NSW minister and office of local government in regard to the unsustainable funding model under which the OJO was operating.

Similar representations were also made by the majority of the joint organisations within the state. The situation arose whereby advice suggested that as a public organisation and without the injection of funds, the OO would be trading insolvent prior to December 2020.

At the OJO board meeting on March 27, and on a recommendation of the general managers of the six member councils, it was resolved (in part): “That subject to any further commitment by the state government towards recurrent funding of the day to day operations of the OJO, the board wind down functions effective June 30, 2020.”

A rescission motion to the ‘wind up’ resolution was considered at an extraordinary meeting held on April 7. At this meeting it was reported that the NSW govern- ment would offer a further once off payment of $150,000 to the OJO to enable continued operations for a further 12 months. This pledge for funds was not supported by committed project initiatives or a reduction in governance responsibilities, as such the rescission motion was not supported.

At a meeting of the OJO on Wednesday, May 12, 2021 it was confirmed that all six member councils have resigned their membership of the OJO and the minister of local government has been collectively advised of this decision. The member councils found the model for the JO was completely untenable leaving councils with no alternative other than to withdraw their support.

All former OJO councils acknowledged the need for continued collaboration within the region and, as such, at the May 12 meeting, recommended that the chair write to the former OROC councils inviting them to provide feedback on their desire to form a voluntary group, similar to the old OROC model, that enables continued collaboration and input on a regional basis.

Gilgandra council resolved at its May 2021 meeting, that council participate in any future regional collaborative organisation of councils.

Resolution February 2022 meeting:

Subject to the outcome of the formation meeting, Gilgandra Shire Council become a member of the Alliance of Western Councils. The majority of other councils have resolved to collaborate to the extent of forming an alliance. As a result, the Alliance of Western Councils will hold its formation meeting in Gilgandra on March 11, 2022.

Some councillors asked what the benefit of being part of this alliance would have for Gilgandra. Mayor Batten proceeded to explain that he had experience of not being in it before, and it meant that there were less opportunities for networking.

This networking means the shire can have access to human resources, contractors, street lighting, and other initiatives. While involved in the alliance, the shire is able to use other shire contractors, and has the potiental to essen- tially save on fees. Mayor Batten also explained that the alliances’ backing of Dubbo Regional Council gave Gilgandra the benefit of a larger scale council.


Gilgandra housing strategy

Council has endorsed the draft Gilgandra Housing Strategy for public exhibition, for a period of 28 days, with a final report to be presented at the April ordinary council meeting.

Randell Medd entered the council meeting, and spoke about the report, and provided further information to councillors. The motion was moved that council progress plan- ning and preliminary design on the Aero Park Residential Subdivision to inform 2022/23 budget discussions.

Report findings

The report explained that Gilgandra is experiencing an unprecedented boost in the local housing market, with high demand in 2021 for houses and investment properties, along with vacant residential land. This demand has continued in the first six weeks of 2022.

Council staff have been monitoring the market trends, engaged with local real estate agents in recent months, and assessed the availability of vacant zoned residential land within Gilgandra. The draft Gilgandra Housing Strategy (GHS) has been developed as a response mechanism to the housing availability pressures that are being experienced, which are not expected to weaken in the near future.

Housing availability is also a priority for the state government, with council staff providing input into state inquiries, regional housing taskforce consultation and regionally based research on the topic and will continue to monitor progress of these. The draft GHS has been developed generally follow- ing the NSW government local housing strategy guide- lines and considers the housing priorities at the state, regional and local levels. At the meeting, general manager David Neeves noted an intention to lobby state government regarding the need for increased housing in the smaller regional centres.

More can be read of the report findings on the council website, under the February meeting minutes.


Road maintenance council contract

Council has acknowledged Warren Shire Council’s interest in resuming the Roads Maintenance Council Contract (RMCC) within the shire boundaries of their council.

Council have no objections to relinquishing the RMCC which covers the Warren local government area.

Council will also write to Transport for NSW noting their support for Warren Shire Council on the grounds that any future contract relates to individual local government areas, and does not become a cluster type con- tract between Warren and Gilgandra Shire Councils.


Warren Shire Council has written to Gilgandra Shire Council, with interest in resuming the RMCC within their shire bounderies. Prior to this, there were ongoing arrangements by Gilgandra Shire Council on the Oxley Highway.

Warren shire acknowledged that Transport for NSW had yet to approve the extension of Gilgandra’s contract term for maintenance and improvement work under RMCC beyond June 30, 2022.

Warren has reconsidered their decision to not take on the R CC on the Oxley Highway within the Warren shire.

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