Panel appointed to oversee new Sunbury Shire boundaries and asset redistribution

Sunbury LeaderBarry Kennedy Friday, 21 February 2014

SUNBURY  residents will vote for their new councillors in 2016, Local Government Minister Jeanette Powell says.

Planning for the new Sunbury Shire has ramped up with a three-person panel appointed to make recommendations to the government on the boundaries and asset redistribution of Victoria’s newest council area.

It comes after a voluntary ballot last year showed 60 per cent of voters wanted the town to cut ties with Hume Council.

The panel will be chaired by Brian Haratsis, a recent consultant on Plan Melbourne.

Other panellists are former Wangaratta Council chief executive Kelvin Spiller and community development specialist Maxine Cooper.

They will report their recommendations by June 30.

Ms Powell said the panel would ensure the ongoing sustainability of both councils.

“Over the coming months the panel will investigate new municipal boundaries and transition arrangements including the distribution of assets and delivery of municipal services while having regard to the economic sustainability of the two restructured councils,” she said.

In addition, a series of public forums will be held in Sunbury in the coming months, while a Community Consultative Committee, expected to be finalised this week, will have ongoing dialogue with the panel members in the lead up to hearings expected in April.

Hume Mayor Casey Nunn said it would be business as usual for Hume Council.

“While Council respects the decision and the vote of the Hume community for separation, we are also proud of our long history of delivering programs, services and projects and our record for advocating for the whole Hume community,” she said.

Cr Nunn said the process would be complicated with $1.8 billion in community assets currently managed by Hume.

All ideas on the composition of the new municipality will be investigated by a community consultative committee, chaired by Northern Victoria Liberal MP Amanda Millar.

“I am aware of all of those issues and I had discussions about them all numerous times so I’m sure they will come up and be looked into,” she said.

Ms Millar said interest from community members wanting to join the committee had been strong.

The eight-person panel is expected to be finalised next week.

“I have no input in selecting the committee but I know from the calls to our office there was strong interest and the department has also been happy with the ­interest,” she said.

But Ms Millar said a mix of interests and professional backgrounds would be the ideal composition.

“Councillors in the existing Hume Council are not ­ineligible, but it would serve no purpose to have just councillors and Sunbury out of Hume campaigners form the committee.”

Ms Millar hoped residents from places such as Diggers Rest and Bulla joined.

The Mt Macedon resident said she would not be championing any models for a Sunbury municipality herself, only facilitating discussion.

“My background is in human resources and I’m an experienced change manager, so I have no views whatsoever on this process.”

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