Proposals to demerge two local councils have cleared another hurdle.
Minister for Local Government Shelley Hancock has formally referred submissions about the Snowy Valleys and Cootamundra-Gundagai councils to the Local Government Boundaries Commission for formal assessment.
"I have made the decision following extensive public exhibition of the proposals which resulted in a combined 1550 submissions being lodged by the local community and councils," Ms Hancock said.
A total of 533 submissions were received in relation to Snowy Valleys, and 1017 about Cootamundra-Gundagai.
"I have directed the boundaries commission, an independent statutory authority, to hold a public inquiry as part of the process," Ms Hancock said.
"The boundaries commission will now follow its own processes in accordance with the Local Government Act. It is required to have regard to a range of factors in assessing the proposals including financial advantages/disadvantages, the local community and geographic cohesion, attitude of residents and ratepayers, and any impact on council operations and staff."
The boundaries commission will provide the minister with statutory reports, which she will consider before deciding whether to recommend implementation of the proposals.
Neil Hamilton from the Save Tumbarumba Shire group said de-merger supporters were hoping the commission would move quickly.
"This issue now is 'what is the process'? Will the boundaries commission be coming here? What's the timeframe?," Dr Hamilton said.
"But at least we have jumped yet another hurdle.
"The boundaries commission has had 533 submissions. Now they need to come here and here from people."
Paul Mara from Gundagai Council in Exile, described the minister's decision as "fantastic".
Member for Wagga Joe McGirr has also welcomed the minister's announcement.
"The boundaries commission referral will allow for a much needed independent review of the merger process for the Snowy Valleys local government area, which I believe has put an intolerable strain on the council. This has in turn, affected residents living in the former Tumut and Tumbarumba shires, who have expressed their concerns with me on numerous occasions," Dr McGirr said.
"As Snowy Valleys Council works to rebuild in the Dunns Road Bushfire aftermath, it will need the state government's ongoing support to ensure this review process does not distract from recovery efforts."
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