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."