Wheatbelt Shires hope Local Government Minister John Castrilli will accept their moves towards resource sharing and co-operation with neighbouring shires as proof forced amalgamations are not needed.
Mr Castrilli recently announced strategies for Local Government reform based on a voluntary reduction in the number of individual councils.
Mr Castrilli has placed a six month time limit on councils to advise him of their intentions.
He has also requested local governments form appropriate regional groupings of councils to assist with the efficient delivery of services.
Most Wheatbelt shire chief executive officers spoken to last week indicated their councils were eager to respond to the minister’s request, but many did not meet officially until this week.
Wyalkatchem chief executive officer Sean Fletcher said the shire had briefly discussed the issues raised and was not opposed to reform.
“However, we have been working towards the outcomes of the Systemic Sustainability Study in regards to co-operation with neighbouring shires,” he said.
“Council will fully discuss the issues raised by Mr Castrilli in their February 19 meeting.”
Mr Fletcher said the shire was keeping ratepayers informed about what was happening and a recent electors meeting attracted 70 electors.
Wyalkatchem Shire is a member of the North Eastern Wheatbelt Region of Councils and has been looking at forging closer relationships with the neighbouring shires of Koorda and Dowerin.
Mr Fletcher said forming NEWROC had been a positive move and the councils involved wanted to continue with the structure and look at other options with the Western Australian Local Government Association.
Westonia Shire chief executive officer Bill Price said that council would also meet this week to discuss the reforms proposed by the minister.
He said Westonia already worked closely with the neighbouring Yilgarn Shire and the two councils had recently signed a memorandum of understanding in regards to resource sharing.
“Both shires form part of the WEROC group of councils, so we are doing everything that has been asked of us,” he said.
Mr Price said he was disappointed with the change of heart from the minister as he had previously stated he would not force amalgamations onto shires.
“Local Government is the only form of decentralisation left to service regional areas,” he said.
“So rural areas may be in for some troubled times if the reforms go ahead.”
Mr Price said most Local Government authorities were sustainable with the funds they were entitled to receive from the Federal Government.
Narembeen Shire relieving chief executive officer Kim Hastle said councillors were still to discuss issues of the proposed reforms.
“Councillors will meet on February 18,” he said. “It will be a challenging time for all local governments.”
Merredin will also meet this week and the reforms will be at the top of the agenda. Shire chief executive officer Frank Ludovico said it was too early to discuss how the council might respond.
Mukinbudin Shire chief executive officer Trevor Smith said council would meet this week to discuss the proposed reforms but the shire would support the other NEWROC councils and continue to implement resource sharing agreements.
He said he expected this would satisfy the minister’s request for councils to show sustainability.