MidCoast Council and MidCoast Water: integration proposal

Last updated: 14 March 2017

Public Exhibition Period - Wednesday 15 March to Wednesday 12 April 2017
Midcoast Council and MidCoast Water logos

The future of MidCoast County Council (trading as MidCoast Water) has been the subject of ongoing discussions with the State Government. At meetings held by both MidCoast Council and MidCoast Water on Wednesday 21 December 2016, it was resolved that a formal process would proceed, seeking to dissolve MidCoast County Council and absorb its functions into MidCoast Council.

The resolution follows careful consideration of all options for the future delivery of water and sewer services to the community, and has been informed by the potential to avoid costs inherent in running two separate entities. Cost savings will be achieved through integrating into one organisation and management structure, with consolidated back-office and corporate functions and systems. In short, the MidCoast community will benefit from these savings if the proposal proceeds.

The proposal that recommends the transfer of MidCoast County Council assets, liabilities and functions to MidCoast Council, has now been placed on public exhibition by the Minister for Local Government. The NSW Government is inviting for feedback on the proposal over a 28-day period, from Wednesday 15 March – Wednesday 12 April 2017.

Make a written submission or provide feedback to the NSW Government by:

  • Post: Minister for Local Government, C/- Office of Local Government, Locked Bag 3015, Nowra, NSW 2541
  • Fax: 02 4428 4199

After the 28-day exhibition period, the State Government will assess the submissions received and then make a final recommendation to the Governor.  The step-by-step process is outlined in the 'Formal Process' tab below.

The general managers of MidCoast Water and MidCoast Council have committed to working closely to establish a transition plan, dependent on the outcome of the Governor's decision. 

The proposal recommends that MidCoast Water operates as a separate business unit or division of MidCoast Council, serving to minimise disruption to both organisation's day-to-day service delivery.

1.       If the proposal is approved, how long before the dissolution takes place?

After the 28-day exhibition, the Minister for Government will take time to review the submissions received and prepare a recommendation to the Governor. The NSW Government will determine how long this process will take.

2.       What cost savings will be made if MidCoast Water is integrated into MidCoast Council?

It is conservatively estimated that cumulative operational savings in excess of $3million per annum can be achieved. You can read more about estimated cost savings in the proposal.                                                 

3.       Will my water and sewer services be impacted?

No. The executives of both MidCoast Water and MidCoast Council have provided a commitment to delivering the same level of service across the MidCoast region.         

4.       If MidCoast Water is operating efficiently as a separate entity, why is it being proposed to integrate it into MidCoast Council?

The recommendation to merge the functions of MidCoast Water into MidCoast council so they operate as a single entity was made by both MidCoast County Council and MidCoast Council, and has been driven primarily by cost           savings. The option for MidCoast Water to stand alone as a Local Government owned corporation has been explored and findings are outlined in the proposal.                

5.       What is the difference between MidCoast Council and MidCoast Water?

MidCoast Water is a county council that was formed by proclamation to specifically provide water and sewer functions for the former Great Lakes, Gloucester Shire and Greater Taree City Councils. It has been historically governed by councillors from these  former councils.

MidCoast Council is a general council providing a range of services to the local community, excluding water and sewer.

Following the merger of Great Lakes, Gloucester Shire and Greater Taree City Councils in May 2016, both MidCoast Water and MidCoast Council are now governed by the Administrator John Turner.

6.       Why is John Turner the Administrator of both MidCoast Council and MidCoast Water?

MidCoast Water was previously governed by elected representatives of the three former councils. These representatives were replaced by John Turner as Administrator of the merged MidCoast Council by proclamation on 12 May 2016.

The Administrator, Mr Turner, made the following statement at the MidCoast Council Extraordinary Meeting on 21 December 2016 :

"In relation to this item, it should be noted that the recommendation, which I accept, does not merge, dissolve or in any other way, at this time affect MidCoast County Council trading as MidCoast Water.

The recommendation is to the Minister for Local Government to consider a dissolution of MidCoast Water not a merger, which is a different local government procedure. If the Minister acts on the recommendation there would be the creation of a Water and Sewerage business unit within MidCoast Council to provide water and sewerage services to the Council area.

If the Minister determines to consider the recommendation the proposal will be put on public exhibition by the Minister through the Office of Local Government for 28 days at a time to be determined by the Minister.

Any member of the public can make a submission for or against the proposal during that period of time and the Minister is obliged under the Local Government Act to consider those submissions before making any determination.

The reports from both the MidCoast Council and MidCoast Water on this matter are substantial and set out reasons why the two councils have decided to refer the matter to the Minister. In the report of MidCoast Water on the proposal it spells out considerable savings to be made should the Minister ultimately adopt the recommendation. These savings could exceed $3 million and this may assist in mitigating water and sewerage pricing pressures in the short and medium term.

However today is not the time to comment extensively on the possible outcome of the options as that would be to comment before the statutory exhibition and submission period. But it is necessary however to say something had to be done in relation to the status of MidCoast Water since the merger of Greater Taree City Council, Gloucester Shire Council and Great Lakes Council. To do nothing was not an option.

County Councils are traditionally made up of a number of constituent councils and as the three constituent councils that made up MidCoast Water no longer exist, there may be even some conjecture of the legal status of MidCoast Water.

Of course MidCoast Water continues to exist however its status has moved from a traditional County Council into a County Council with one constituent council. This is a council being run by a council and therefore it had to be determined whether to recommend that the provision of water and sewerage be by way of a local government company wholly owned by MidCoast Council or by way of MidCoast Council directly which would mean dissolving MidCoast Water and creating a water and sewerage business unit within MidCoast Council.

The latter with quantifiable savings which will ultimately flow to the residents and ratepayers, was the recommendation put forward.

It should be noted that until 1997 when MidCoast Water was created, both the former Great Lakes Council and Greater Taree City Council were the providers of sewerage services and in the case of Gloucester Shire Council, they were providing water and sewerage services until 2011.

As I stated previously, to do nothing was not an option for either MidCoast Water and MidCoast Council."