Dubbo Regional Council administrator Michael Kneipp has urged people to look forward and concentrate on making the combined Dubbo-Wellington venture a success rather than trying to undo the merger.
Mr Kneipp rejected a call from former Dubbo mayors Mathew Dickerson, Allan Smith and Greg Matthews to hold a plebiscite to gauge whether people supported the amalgamation of the two councils.
The trio of mayors said the cost of holding a plebiscite alongside the DRC election on September 9 would be minimal, but would be an important display of democracy.
“Dubbo Regional Council will not entertain the idea of holding a poll or plebiscite on council amalgamations in conjunction with the local government elections in September,” Mr Kneipp said.
“Dubbo Regional Council has made significant progress to create an organisation that is forward looking and ready to support the new council after the September election.
“This will remain the focus for the coming months.”
Mr Kneipp said the upcoming election, which would see eight councillors selected to represent wards in Dubbo and two for Wellington, was an important milestone.
“There is a genuine opportunity for the incoming Council to work strategically to support the growth and prosperity of the region,” he said.
“I would encourage people interested in the future of the Dubbo Region to seriously consider standing in the local elections to represent the community.
“Already, potential candidates have made known their intentions to serve as councillors on the new council.”
Mr Dickerson said an initial survey into support for the amalgamation showed 80 per cent were against it, and the feedback he had from the community since was in line with that.
Mr Dickerson said the only way to be sure of where public support was to hold a plebiscite.
Mr Smith said Wellington residents might be supportive of the idea now, but felt they would be less satisfied when eight out of 10 councils were aligned with Dubbo.
“Even if Wellington is liking the amalgamation because so much money is being poured into there, I don’t think they have thought about the outcome after the election in September,” Mr Smith said.
“In the new council, the best they can do is two representatives. I don’t know how Wellington will fair when it’s two against eight.”
Mr Mathews said Dungog Shire Council had decided to hold a plebiscite to gauge resident’s reactions, despite not being forced to merge with nearby Maitland council.
“They have chosen to hold a plebiscite to see what the people want and I think that’s a great move.”
A Fairfax Media poll on the issue found 60.2 per cent of respondents were in favour of holding a plebiscite, with 37.3 per cent against the idea and 2.5 per cent undecided.