Boundary changes

The Campbelltown Council’s push to realign its boundary with the Adelaide Hills Council has merit on many levels.
On the surface the proposal appears to be logical, as the high density affected areas have far more in common with their metropolitan neighbors than they do with the rural and peri-urban areas of the Hills.
Located a significant distance from the council’s major community centres, it’s also likely that residents in that part of the council already access community facilities – such as libraries and recreational facilities – outside their council area.
The change may also financially benefit those ratepayers, as established metropolitan councils can often provide services at lower costs to property owners.
The welfare of these ratepayers should be of primary concern.
But while the boundary change may seem sensible on many levels, the proposal could have implications for the Adelaide Hills Council.
High density suburban areas – such as Woodforde and Rostrevor – return high rates of revenue compared with the lower density rural parts of the council while the required services are able to be provided more efficiently and at a lower cost.
If the Adelaide Hills Council loses the 600 plus homes along its boundary with the Campbelltown Council, it could also lose more than $1m in rates revenue – some of which likely offsets costs in other high maintenance parts of the council.
The recent legislation changes make it easier for councils to suggest boundary realignments even though such applications are still subject to investigations into the impacts on affected councils and residents.
The process of such realignments can begin without the agreement of affected councils which may leave peri-urban councils vulnerable.
If the legislation changes trigger a widespread re-evaluation of council boundaries – and more high density, peri-urban areas such as Rostrevor are absorbed by true metropolitan councils – the viability of peri-urban councils without major metropolitan-style centres could be placed under increasing financial pressure. This could trigger talks of more significant changes or even whole amalgamations such as were experienced 20 years ago.