By TONY FOSTER OAM
ON November 19, Brighton officially celebrated the 150th anniversary of its proclamation as a municipality. In fact, our regular Council meeting last month, and the celebrations at the Brighton Civic Centre, were held 150 years to the day after the very first meeting of the Brighton Council on November 19 1863.
The event provided me with the opportunity to research some of our history over the past 150 years.
On its establishment, Brighton Council levied a municipal rate of three pence a year. The rate was later reduced to one penny annually after Councillors were able the find savings. And that emphasis on efficiency and savings still exists at Brighton Council. We are one of the very few councils in Tasmania operating in the black. We are debt free and this financial year, have budgeted for a surplus of $1.3 million, after providing $5 million for capital works.
Brighton Council sets the benchmark for councils across Tasmania. We have the lowest rate increase of any council in the State – this year household rates rose by just 40 cents a week and our Fair Rating System is the envy of local government throughout Australia.
Good governance has been a feature and achievement of Brighton Council over the past century and a half – a time when we have seen our population grow from just 3000 people to 17,000 today.
Much has changed over the years. Electricity came to Brighton in 1929, residents were connected to a fresh water supply in 1950 and a regular garbage collection service commenced in 1973. The first sewerage scheme was completed in 1974 and today Brighton is still the only council in Australia to remove 100 per cent of its effluent from its waterways, it being used to irrigate dry farming land mainly in the Tea Tree area.
Brighton is now the fastest growing municipality in the State, with Council providing the full range of essential services.
So, 150 years has passed since the very first Council meeting and we look forward to many more years of service and achievement for our community.
As this is the final issue of Brighton Community News for 2013, all that remains for me is to wish everyone all the very best for the festive season and a safe and prosperous new year.
I take this opportunity to thank Councillors and staff for their efforts over the past 12 months and my appreciation to the community for the wonderful support we have received. I look forward to reporting to our community again in 2014.