West Tamar approves George Town merger study

A study exploring the possible merger between the West Tamar and George Town councils was approved by the West Tamar Council on Tuesday.

Councillors considered a memorandum of understanding about the two local governments combining to form Tamar Valley Council.

It follows the council’s decision to write to Local Government Minister Peter Gutwein outlining its desire to work with the state in undertaking a pre-feasibility study to assess the potential of a merger.

Speaking at Tuesday’s meeting, deputy mayor Joy Allen emphasised the proposal was still in its formative stages.

“Community engagement will come into this at a later stage,” she said.

“This is just to see if it is feasible.”

Councillor Tim Woinarski agreed, and added it was important people in the community didn’t get ahead of themselves when responding to the issue.

“In all the noise that has been generated by this concept of a merger, we’re really only at the beginning of the beginning, and I think that message has been lost,” he said.

We’re really only at the beginning of the beginning, and I think that message has been lost

Cr Tim Woinarski

“Community consultation will come when we know whether it is worth going down that path.”

It is proposed that the outcome of the study into the merger will be jointly owned by the Tasmanian Government, West Tamar Council and George Town Council.

Councillor Rick Shegog said the prospect of a merger was not to be taken lightly.

“By no means is this a simple process and it is nice to know there is a human element to it,” he said.

“It is an exciting chapter in West Tamar Council’s longevity that we are now part of our own decision-making process with another council, which is not being determined by a third party.”

Addressing the George Town contingent in the chambers, Mayor Christina Holmdahl said the initial idea was floated with the community in mind.

“The approach was made to us by the George Town Council with the best possible intentions,” she said.