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Piecing two councils into one

paulsullivanSnowy Valleys Council administrator Paul Sullivan says the past five months since the merger of the Tumut and Tumbarumba Shire Councils has been “a steep learning curve”.

“Tumut and Tumbarumba are two good communities, but the councils aren’t an entirely natural fit,” he said. “There was much disenchantment in Tumbarumba, which did not want the merger, and those ideologies still exist to a degree. There is still a strong antagonistic element but hopefully I will be able to address the major concerns. I vowed at the start to do the best I can for all the community, and still intend to do that.”

Mr Sullivan came to the job with experience in management consultancy and agribusiness, and said he did not take the job on reluctantly.

“I wouldn’t say reluctantly, but I do reassess the decision regularly,” he said.

Mr Sullivan said Tumut Shire’s councillors were good people but didn’t work well together.

“That was picked up by the community,” he said. “I think disruption can be useful in resettling balances.”

He said that he believed that Tumbarumba had been an effective council.

“But it was perceived that it did not have the scale to be a sufficient rating base,” he said.

He said the Snowy Valleys Council culture has to improve on that of Tumut Shire Council.

“Yes the culture needs to change; that is why consultants were hired to dig up a few issues,” he said. “You can never get a council to move into the future without addressing the issues of the present. A council must always be accountable to the community it serves. There needs to be transparency, accountability and comfortable interaction with the community. People’s concerns need to he heard.”

Promoting tourism is part of Snowy Valleys’ future plans.

“We can’t place to much reliance on one industry (timber), “Mr Sullivan said. “We need to be looking at other industries and tourism is natural, as this is the pretty side of the mountains.”

Mr Sullivan believes mergers such as this will define the success of future mergers, but says his job is not a popularity contest.

“If I can do the best I can do for all parties then I will have done a good job,” he said.