Snowy Monaro mayor called to retract comments on defunct Bombala Council

Snowy Monaro Mayor John Rooney has been under fire recently for disparaging comments made about the former Bombala Council.

Councillors on the Snowy Monaro Regional Council

Councillors on the Snowy Monaro Regional Council

His subsequent "retraction" is also thought to have not gone far enough.

At last Thursday's Snowy Monaro Regional Council meeting in Cooma, councillors voted unanimously to pass a motion to have Cr Rooney retract comments he made on ABC radio.

The comments were made on Friday, February 8, following a public meeting by the Save Bombala committee in Bombala the previous evening.

In his radio interview, Mr Rooney said the old Bombala Council had failed to deliver a satisfactory standard of services, and neglected investment and infrastructure.

He also said, "that money is far better spent in the region, rather than a sub-economic, non-viable, small council, which is sure to be bankrupt again in a few years time and would need to be merged with neighbouring councils...".

Former Bombala Council mayor and current Snowy Monaro councillor Bob Stewart said he had been contacted by many residents of the former Bombala Council area voicing their concern over the comments.

Mr Rooney said on ABC radio on Monday morning that council had called on him to table a statement providing evidence of his claim and retract a statement regarding bankruptcy.

“I will now on radio retract the statement of bankruptcy, which on advice, I regard as inappropriate.

“Bankruptcy is a term that applies to individuals and to corporations that cannot meet their liabilities.

“Technically a council cannot go bankrupt…because it always has the ability raise revenue through rates which it can use to cover its operational costs," Mayor Rooney said.

However, he stood by his other comments that Bombala Council was declared "unfit for the future" by the IPART review of 2015.

"I believe the proposed demerger would be a mistake," Cr Rooney said.

"Bombala Council was unfit for the future when reviewed back in 2015 and if it was demerged it would continue to be unfit for the future.

"It would be a waste of money and a terrible distraction that will produce a poorer result.

"This is the reason why the three councils were amalgamated - in the hope that the new larger council would be fit for the future due to its greater capacity and financial resources to be able to deliver the sort of services our community expects."

Cr Stewart said that he didn't believe what Cr Rooney said on radio was a retraction.

"It was more a definition than a retraction," he said.

SMR Council meeting.

SMR Council meeting.