The West Australian Government’s council merger plans are in danger of collapse, with Perth mayors threatening to walk away from the process unless more money is found.
Last week’s state budget set aside $60 million for amalgamations – but $45 million of that is in the form of loans which must be paid back, with interest.
Mayors from several Perth councils met with Local Government Minister Tony Simpson and say they feel betrayed.
The Government wants to halve the number of metropolitan councils from 30 to 15, but the plan has attracted criticism from councils, the Opposition and even government backbenchers.
Hundreds of people rallied outside Parliament House last month in opposition to the mergers, and an alliance of at least eight councils has been formed to fight the plans.
Bassendean Mayor John Gangell said the State Government has not been able to say how much amalgamations will cost.
“[We feel] completely betrayed,” he said.
“Our communities are now going to have to pay for the State Government’s own reform and we’re going to demand the State Government fully fund this process or we’re going to walk away.
“It is a State Government reform and we’ve told him [Mr Simpson] if they do not comply, then local government will look at having no further involvement in the process.”
Serpentine Jarrahdale shire president Keith Ellis says it is unfair.
“You know they said that they were going to fund the money, they’re not funding it, they want us to borrow money to pay for it, and we’re not gonna put up with it, the ratepayers don’t deserve it,” he said.
“And this government is financially broke; Serpentine Jarrahdale, little Serpentine Jarrahdale, we’re debt free! If we’re debt free why can’t they manage it?”