Opposition to 3-way Corowa, Urana and Lockhart merger reinforced at Urana public meeting

DIGGING IN: Urana Shire mayor Pat Bourke says opposition to a three-way merger with Corowa and Lockhart remains strong.

DIGGING IN: Urana Shire mayor Pat Bourke says opposition to a three-way merger with Corowa and Lockhart remains strong.

REPRESENTATION in any future council model remains the biggest concern for Urana Shire which is staring down the prospect of a merger with Corowa and Lockhart councils.

Urana Council reinforced its opposition to the three-way merger at a public meeting on Thursday night attended by an estimated 70 residents.

Its preference is to stand alone, but is prepared to make an amalgamation work with Corowa only.

Late last year, Urana Council resolved four of its councillors would join seven from Corowa in the new-look entity.

Urana mayor Pat Bourke said residents remained upset Lockhart had been thrown into the mix at the last minute, which had scuttled agreements already in place between Urana and Corowa in the event a merger was approved.

"The representation is going to be the be-all and end-all of it," he said.

"(Local Government minister Paul Toole) told us face-to-face Lockhart was never going to be an option for us.

"We did ask whether we could merge with them originally.

"But it was too small and there wasn't enough population to meet the criteria of 10,000 people."

Urana and Corowa shires presently have nine councillors each for population bases of 1200 and 11,000 people respectively.

Albury MP Greg Aplin and Corowa mayor Paul Miegel and general manager Chris Gillard were among those to attend the public meeting.

Cr Bourke said despite its shrinking population Urana remained financial.

"We've always been financial and the only the time the books have shown a deficit is when they have brought depreciation into it," he said.

"We've been very functional for 109 years and it's hard to think we are going away from a model that is working.

"But the writing is on the wall unfortunately.

"Residents are still very disappointed that we have to amalgamate at all.

"They feel there has been a definite agenda there.

"But if a merger has to happen they are still comfortable about merging with Corowa."

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