Review recommends amalgamation of Sorell and Tasman Councils

A report prepared by Tasmania's Local Government Board has recommended that the Sorell and Tasman Councils pursue voluntary amalgamation, following a review initiated at the request of the two councils.

Releasing the report, the Tasmanian Premier, Will Hodgman, said any amalgamation would be voluntary, resulting from a decision by both councils.

“Forced amalgamations simply do not work. Sustainable change has to be driven by the community,” he said.

The Board proposes a transitional process that would see the election of councillors for a new, amalgamated council by the end of 2019.

The Board conducted its Review to determine the long-term sustainability of the Councils under the three options. Both existing Councils are currently viable in terms of whether they can currently meet financial obligations arising from the services they deliver.

The Board found that both Councils have challenges and opportunities arising from the characteristics of their municipal areas. Of particular note, Tasman’s demographic profile, including low population growth and ageing, is already apparent in terms of the challenges this poses to Council. Sorell, on the other hand, has a fast growing, and relatively younger population, though this creates other challenges for it (such as meeting new infrastructure demands).

After consider three options – remaining a separate councils, sharing infrastructure and voluntary amalgamation – the Board recommended that the Sorell and Tasman Councils be voluntarily amalgamated into a new council which incorporates the existing municipal boundaries.

It proposed that an interim council be appointed for a period of up to 12 months, and that current Councillors be appointed to act in the role of ‘Interim Community Board’ for the transition period until the election no later than October 2019, to conduct community consultation on the establishment of community boards in the new Council area post-transition.

The full report is available here.

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