Hornsby Advocate

By Peter Theodosiou

The population of the US state of New Jersey is just under nine million people but they have 565 municipalities.

By comparison, NSW has 7.5 million people but only 152 local government areas, of which Hornsby shire is one.

Hornsby Mayor Steve Russell visited the garden state as part of a Future Cities Program tour in September and he said the high number of governing municipalities reaffirmed his support of amalgamating NSW councils.

“It was a real eye opener over there to see what happens if we don’t do it, they are in a worse position than us,” Cr Russell said.

“Their politicians don't have the guts or information to do it because a lot of them would be out of jobs.

“We think we have it bad in NSW and I understand why we need to amalgamate.

“They are well and truly over-governed, there is too much bureaucracy, they could have four types of government including the local council, the county, the state and the federal.”

Accompanied by council General Manager Scott Phillips and planning manager James Farrington, the week-long tour stopped off in New York and Connecticut, with focus on improving town centres.

Cr Russell said New York’s street furniture and paths could be emulated at sites around Hornsby, including the laneway leading to Hornsby Library, the new footbridge across George St, the west side of the train station and Dural Lane, as well town centres in Epping, Pennant Hills and Brooklyn. The trip cost the council $15,000 but Cr Russell paid for his own airfares.

“It was no junket I assure you, we worked long hours, they had us on the bus at 8am and we weren’t finished till seven or eight at night,” Cr Russell said.

Hornsby was chosen for the tour after nominating the project to revitalise Hornsby’s west side.

The tour included mayors and planners from five other NSW councils including Gosford, Pittwater, Canada Bay, Wollongong and Marrickville.