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Posted on July 04, 2023

Northern Midlands Council has voted to fight any changes to its present boundaries or mergers with neighbouring councils.

Mayor Mary Knowles said today it was Council’s view that Northern Midlands residents would be severely disadvantaged under all the proposed scenarios presented in the Local Government Review.

“Local representation would be weakened or lost entirely, and our municipality would lose its identity forever,” Mayor Knowles said.

Mayor Knowles said that under all scenarios proposed in the Review, Northern Midlands municipality would cease to exist.

“Rates for all residents would also likely rise following a merger. If we merged with Launceston residential rates would very likely rise to their level.

“As an example, for a property with a government valuation (capital value) of $600,000.00, a Launceston ratepayer currently pays total rates of $2,004.10 compared to $1,492.19 for a property of the same value in Northern Midlands – a difference of $511.91,” Mayor Knowles said.

Mayor Knowles said that if Northern Midlands was merged with Southern Midlands, Central Highlands or Meander Valley it would lose a large part of its industrial and business sectors, putting a greater burden on rural properties as well as residential ratepayers.

“I feel for the residents in the smaller rural towns and the farming community, who would be impacted by a loss of rate base”, said Mayor Knowles.

“Council has resolved to fight any attempt to abolish Northern Midlands and to protect the democratic and financial interests of our residents” she said.

Mayor Knowles said the fight against forced mergers would include a media and social media campaign, posters and banners, community surveys and direct mail to residents to provide information.

“If, despite our efforts, the State Government decides to pursue forced amalgamations, then our Council has resolved to look at a merger of Northern Midlands and Meander Valley in their entirety – that is, with no loss of industrial and business sectors, such as the Launceston Airport TransLink Precinct to Launceston City” Mayor Knowles said.

Mayor Knowles said that of all the neighbouring municipalities, Meander Valley had the most similar community of interest.

“There are continued opportunities for resource sharing across our two councils and, in this way, all the current assets, strategic plans, corporate knowledge, staff and our strong financial position would be retained,” she said.

Mayor Knowles said that Northern Midlands had an enviable financial position.

“Over the past eight years, Northern Midlands has completed several significant million-dollar infrastructure upgrades including bridges, sporting facilities, playgrounds, flood detention basins to protect the businesses and jobs at the TRANSlink Industrial Precinct at Launceston Airport, and a new childcare facility.

"Northern Midlands is in a strong financial position to continue to deliver on community assets, has dedicated indoor and outdoor staff and a caring and supportive community.”

Mayor Knowles said it made no sense to put all that at risk for any merger which would damage local democracy and put a greater financial burden on residents.

For further information, please contact Mayor Mary Knowles OAM on 0408 766 625.