Costly split in Mansfield but ...
... ratepayers reckon they are happier
RATES for Victoria’s Mansfield Council rose 72 per cent in just five years after de-amalgamation in 2002.
The de-amalgamation of the Delatite Shire Council into the rural City of Benalla and Mansfield Shire is cited as the best example of de-amalgamation of councils in Australia.
The Mansfield Shire fought a long and sustained push for de-amalgamation citing a lack of identity and disenfranchisement from the larger council, with more than 70 per cent of the region’s 7900 residents marching in protest against the forced amalgamation.
After the Bracks Labor Government finally listened to the community’s calls for de-amalgamation, an independent review panel was established to determine the cost to ratepayers and overall impacts.
While the review panel concluded the cost to ratepayers would be a 34 per cent increase over five years, the final financial burden was more than double this amount.
Former Mansfield Council mayor Tom Ingpen was a driving force behind the de-amalgamation and only stepped down last Friday after serving five terms and believes the benefits have outweighed the financial costs.
“Make no mistake, if people want to do this they must all work together tirelessly for the common goal of deamalgamation,” Mr Ingpen said.
“At the time of the proposed Mansfield de-amalgamation there was a resident population of 2500 and everyone had to join the fighting committee, which cost just $5, and support the committee and all that that entailed in their push to win back their town council.
“At our very first meeting we had 1250 people turn up out of our 2500 residents.
“If the residents of Port Douglas and Mossman want to win the de-amalgamation fight - and it is a fight - it took us three years of fighting everyday to get our council back they too must have the numbers to show politicians they are fair dinkum, because that’s the only thing they (politicians) will take notice of.
“This comes back to the real test for the residents and that is, is the ’community of interest’ sufficient for everyone to begin the long, hard and slow fight.”
Mr Inpen believes the de-amalgamation has proven to be the right move for us.
“It has been very successful for the past 10 years and everyone takes a real pride in the council and in the town,” he said.
“Our rates are certainly not higher than any other shire in the district, but even if they were slightly higher people genuinely would not mind because we have our own voice back and we make decisions for ourselves that affect only ourselves and we are all much happier for it.”