Narrogin mayor Don Ennis says he is disappointed by a poor public turnout to a meeting last week about the proposed merger between the Town of Narrogin and shires of Narrogin and Cuballing.
Local Government Advisory Board meetings were held in Narrogin and Cuballing and gave residents the chance to make submissions about the proposed amalgamation.
Mr Ennis said the lack of attendance at the Narrogin meeting could be a sign many people did not understand the impact of the merger, and while the Cuballing meeting was better patronised, there was a lot of uninformed opposition.
“I urge anyone who is unsure of the impact of the merger or who wants more information to contact their president or mayor,” he said.
Cuballing Shire president Tom Wittwer said there was a view in Cuballing that Narrogin would dominate the amalgamated government and would use Cuballing as a cash cow.
“It is not a takeover, it’s an amalgamation,” he said. “The whole process has been very open and the three councils involved have come to a very amicable agreement on how it should work.
“Two years ago the community gave us direction to explore the option of a merger and almost unanimously told us to go in that direction, and we’ve done that.”
Mr Wittwer said the process was coming to a head with a percentage of the population showing concern.
Narrogin Shire president Richard Chadwick said the amalgamation was inevitable.
“If we don’t do it we’ll be made to do it and the reason the Shire is doing it is because we think it is inevitable and because the government is paying for it,” Mr Chadwick said.
“The turnout in Narrogin was very poor and there are two ways of looking at that – either people don’t know what is going on or they trust their councillors and staff implicitly with what they are doing.”
Cr Wittwer also views the amalgamation as necessary.
“It would be great if it could stay the same but we’ve been the same for 100 years and it’s just not going to happen,” he said.
“Two-thirds of our revenue comes from the government and really we’ve got to get better at what we’re doing and we need some economies of scale.
“Cuballing needs Narrogin. All our medical and hospital services, school and shopping is there and so Narrogin needs to be a vibrant place for Cuballing to be a vibrant place. If Narrogin isn’t vibrant, Cuballing isn’t going to be vibrant.”
Narrogin chief executive Aaron Cook said people still had up until November 22 to make a written or verbal submission to the Local Government Advisory Board.