MidCoast Council and MidCoast Water integration

28 June 2017:  NSW Minister for Environment, Local Government and Heritage, the Hon. Gabrielle Upton MP, has today approved the proposal to dissolve MidCoast Water and move its functions into MidCoast Council, effective July 1, 2017.

After carefully considering the proposal and the representations received during the public consultation process which was conducted in March/April, Minister Upton has recommended to the Governor that the proposal be implemented without modification on and from 1 July 2017. Accordingly, the Governor has issued a proclamation to this effect.

The announcement follows the resolutions made by both MidCoast Water and MidCoast Council in December 2016, and after consideration of all options for the future delivery of water and sewer services to the community. The proposal was informed by the potential to avoid costs inherent in running two separate entities, and outlined staff and operational efficiencies estimated at over $3million per year. Integration of functions will ultimately deliver cost savings for the community.

Management at both MidCoast Water and MidCoast Council are committed to working closely to implement the transition in a way that will avoid any disruption to services. For now, and into the future, provision of services across all functions will be "business as usual" for residents of the MidCoast area.

MidCoast Water has successfully provided quality water-related services to our community for 20 years, and as part of MidCoast Council, will continue to focus on the delivery of drinking water and the protection of our environment.

View the media release here. Read the NSW Government proclamation here.

Information relating to the proposal and the process undertaken over the past six months can be accessed below.

Frequently asked questions

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 integration process


Statement by the Administrator

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."

Administrator John Turner talks about the integration proposal


Published 21 Dec 2016

MidCoast Council Administrator John Turner talks to the media regarding the proposed dissolution of MidCoast Water and reintegration into the MidCoast Council structure. This interview came after the 21 December Extraordinary Council Meeting where Council resolved to request that the NSW Minister for Local Government start a consultation period to enable submissions from the public and interested stakeholders.