Mayor rejects findings
‘FINANCIAL WIZARDY’ ONLY WAY TO PASS IPART TEST, SAYS BALI
BLACKTOWN Mayor Stephen Bali has slammed IPART’s Fit For The Future report labelling the council as financially “unfit”.
The report, which will be used to justify why councils should amalgamate, was released yesterday after months of speculation.
The IPART report listed Blacktown Council, along with others, “as not fit because they did not demonstrate they met the financial criteria overall”.
“As these councils were assessed as satisfying the scale and capacity criterion, strategies to improve their financial performance should enable them to be- come fit,” the report said. “This could include measures to promote financial sustainability, by reducing costs and increasing revenues.”
Premier Mike Baird has set a deadline of November 18 for the majority of councils that have failed a financial sustainability test after the report found 71 per cent of metropolitan councils were “not fit”.
While Blacktown is not listed as a council advised to amalgamate with its neighbours, Cr Bali said it was “wrong” to expect a council as large as Blacktown to fit a “black-and-white scenario”.
“Councils are set up to fail in these things unless they do some financial wizardry,” he said.
Cr Bali said the council’s infrastructure backlog was reduced from $80 million to $60 million with the last budget.
He also described the council’s last budget as “compassionate” and “hon- est”. Meanwhile, Penrith Council has been given the all-clear by the contentious IPART report.
Mr Baird would not be drawn on whether his government would try to pass legislation to force the mergers or achieve them via the Boundaries Commission.