Just when you thought it was safe to go back to the Council Chamber the inevitable raises its head again.
All was quiet on the secession front while the Blayney/Orange/Cabonne merger fight dragged on.
Now that its over, ratepayers from the ‘East’ (well, some of them) have recommenced their push for their region – around the Canobolas to Mullion Creek part of the Cabonne “donut” surrounding Orange – to become part of the Orange City Council area.
Rumblings from the East for Eugowra to hive off to Forbes are also alive again.
Easterners reckon they are paying “close to twice the rates of neighboring Orange rural ratepayers” and are subsidising the Cabonne villages and are being ignored when it comes to services in the east of the shire, including road maintenance. Representatives of the Eastern secession group will meet Cabonne Mayor Ian Gosper on Friday to push the case for a boundary adjustment.
Cabonne is in a precarious position when it comes to boundaries.
The growth of Orange over the years has, and will continue, to impact on the somewhat weird shape of Cabonne’s encirclement of Orange. In particular, areas around Orange Airport and Mount Canobolas are already seeing pressure for rezoning (in the case of the Airport) or tourism redevelopment (in the case of Canobolas).
Access to and utilisation of the Mount Canobolas region are ripe for tourism exploitation. The Canobolas road and carpark at the top are woeful – yet Cabonne has neither the resources or a business case to improve them. Not so Orange City.
But it is hard to believe that, as the East secessionists make out, they do not receive their fair share of Cabonne roads money. Everyone in Cabonne reckons this.
Orange City Council mayor John Davis has said the council was interested in the new push for boundary changes. It was ever thus.
The problem for Cabonne is that if it loses significant rate bases through boundary changes in the East and West (the East reckon they pay 38% of Cabonne’s rate income) then Cabonne risks becoming financially unviable.
Might as well shift Eugowra to nearby Forbes, Canowindra to nearby Cowra, Euchareena to Wellington/Dubbo and join the rest to Orange and merge. Forget about the Wellington/Cabonne/Blayney (WBC) alliance. It has brought some benefits, but mainly in back office joint purchasing savings.
Anti amalgamation was fought on sound arguments. There are clear dangers in ramming boutique Cabonne into department store Orange.
Clearly, now that the merger scenario has gone for the time being, Orange, Blayney and Cabonne need to get together in a seriously cohesive way and start talking.
Especially in the land planning, zoning, tourism and rating departments.
Its the only chance of getting the benefits of both worlds.