Mayor re­jects find­ings

‘FINANCIAL WIZ­ARDY’ ONLY WAY TO PASS IPART TEST, SAYS BALI

Mt Druitt - St Mary's Standard (East) - - NEWS - Adam Bell and Ali­son Bald­ing

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.

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