By TONY FOSTER
Mayor of Brighton
RECOGNITION of Brighton Council’s resource-sharing initiatives by the Local Government Association in the recent awards for excellence demonstrate how our Council continues to lead the way.
It was pleasing to see the recognition given to Brighton’s unique business model of resource sharing built around our talented staff, which is providing significant economies of scale for other councils while at the same time benefiting Brighton ratepayers through increased revenue.
This outstanding common service provision model allows us to share our staff and resources with other councils both in Tasmania and more recently in its partnerships with interstate councils and with Suva in Fiji where we have established a sister city partnership.
Our model enables us to manage our resources in a way that not only provides assistance to other councils, but also brings in revenue for the benefit of Brighton’s ratepayers. The Brighton community benefits through enhanced services and minimal rates increases.
It is an example of how entrepreneurship and resource sharing can help local government achieve sustainability in the long-term. In addition to outsourcing resources in Tasmania, through our wholly owned business Microwise Australia Pty Ltd, we have also developed operational software that is now used by nine Tasmanian councils, three councils in Western Australia, two in New South Wales and the Suva City Council in Fiji.
Indeed, the establishment of sister city links between Brighton is the culmination of the strong business links we have established over the past few years and I am confident it will generate real business and significant benefits for our ratepayers and community.
But it is all built on Brighton’s innovative approach to resource-sharing and the provision of professional and technology services to other councils.
Recent years have seen a dramatic change in emphasis on how local government services are delivered. While communities demand increased and improved services and service delivery, there is an ever-increasing requirement for cost competitiveness and efficiency. With this in mind, it is vital that local government thinks smarter and is better at its business.
Pressures on local government in service delivery, increasing regulatory roles and the challenges of obtaining and maintaining high quality staff, ensure that councils must work together to draw on their collective knowledge and skills. Regional and rural councils in particular have quite distinct challenges and operational issues compared to metropolitan councils. This has reinforced the importance of working with and engaging staff and organisations that truly understand the collective core business of local government.
This is where Brighton comes into its own.
We provide a range of important and vital ongoing services to other councils, ranging from the provision of senior management personnel, engineering and technical services and other advice and support, to unique information technology and software development and implementation that facilitates the business of local government.
Brighton has been able to successfully transfer into a range of local government environments in Tasmania, Australia and internationally because our people know the business from the inside.
The benefits for Council and ratepayers include the further development of our talented staff, the efficiencies and economies of scale we achieve, as well as the income Brighton earns that helps fund services for the community and keep rate rises at a minimum.