Cost blowout in Bayside Council merger

Last days: Bayside Council Administrator Greg Wright with Geberal Manager Meredith Wallace. Picture: John Veage

Last days: Bayside Council Administrator Greg Wright with Geberal Manager Meredith Wallace. Picture: John Veage

The cost of merging Rockdale and Botany Bay Council is expected to blowout well above the $10 million estimated.

The new figures were outlined in the end of term report presented by Bayside Council Administrator Greg Wright.

In it, he said that $3.7 million had already been spent on the merger process. 

However, he said it’s estimated another $14.7 million is still required to be spent over the next two years. 

That is almost double the $10 million given by the state government to meet the costs of amalgamation.

‘’Bringing two sizeable organisations together, under a new name, is always going to be a relatively expensive exercise,’’ he said.

‘’There is little doubt, however, that the total cost over time of the merger will exceed the $10 million provided.

‘’Ultimately a broad range of activities will be required to continue the merger process and some of those activities will require continued funding.’’

That includes staff changes and salary harmonisation, signage, and systems integration.

However, he said some of that could be funded through the savings made by combining the two councils and avoiding duplication of services.

Despite the challenges he said some important achievements had been made.

He pointed to the refurbishment of the Eastgardens Library and Customer Service Centre which is close to completion.

That’s in addition to the $4 million allocated to improvements at Pine Park at Ramsgate and $2.5 million for upgrades to Cahill Park in Wolli Creek.

With the council only having eight months to successfully merge before the elections Mr Wright said there was still more to be done.

He has organised several briefing papers for the new councillors to look at on emerging issues including the standardisation of service levels, delivery techniques, and pricing and access.

Other issues include drafting one local local environment plan and how rates will work in the longer term.

‘’It has been a very great honour to represent the Bayside Community for the past 12 months and to offer some small contribution to the development of the new and larger council organisation,’’ he said.

‘’The privilege of working with a good many community organisations, agencies, and individuals has only been matched by my good fortune in working collaboratively with the outstanding staff and management of the council.’’

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