BRIGHTON Council is leading the way for local government in the efficient management of its finances and operations, and also, in promoting initiatives that are improving services for the community and generating important savings and new revenue.
In his annual report to Council, Mayor Tony Foster said Brighton could rightly be proud of its successful financial management but as well as reflecting on its past success, it was vital to concentrate on the future.Cr Foster said Brighton was fortunate to have strong growth in the municipality driven by a stable Council and skilled and supportive staff.
“While this growth assists our financial position, we also must accept expectations from our community for an ever-increasing higher level of service. We appreciate this and continually work to enhance the range and quality of services for the people of the Brighton Municipality,” he said.
“Council annually reviews its long-term financial plan which is linked to its long-term asset management plan.
“We have had these plans in place for more than 10 years now and it is interesting to note it is now a legislative requirement for all councils to also adopt similar measures.”
Cr Foster says Brighton’s current long-term financial plan identifies that Council is in a sound position to maintain the municipality’s infrastructure and fund depreciation over the life cycle of its assets.
“However, we do not have control over external impacts that affect both our financial and asset management plans.
“Recent economic shocks to Council include the reduction and freezing of our TasWater dividends, the freezing of our Federal Assistance Grant. Compounding this, many State and Federal government expenses charged to Council are running well above CPI.
Fortunately, Council has the ability and expertise to adapt to these shocks and I can advise that our staff have already begun steps to review options to offset any financial impacts that may be out of our control.”
Cr Foster said options may include expanding Brighton’s external revenue through its Microwise Australia Information Technology business or shared services with other councils, reviewing our current expenditure, fees and charges, and our rating methods may be broadened to include options such as a development incentive charge for undeveloped land.
“When recurrent income linked to growth is reduced over the long term, such as the reduction in Council’s dividends from TasWater, it cannot be replaced with single fixes of a capital nature such as single grants or land sales. It requires growth-related structural reform.
“I am confident Council will meet this challenge and adapt successfully over the next two years,” Cr Foster said.
Brighton has been extremely successful in gaining important Federal Government funding for key projects in the municipality.
In total, Brighton has secured more than $2million in funding for the Cove Hill Bridge Road, the Brighton Streetscape project and the upgrading of the Brighton Bowls and Community Club. Work on these three projects will commence in the near future.
On an associated front, work has continued on the Master Plan for the former Brighton Army Camp and this will be ongoing through 2017.
In March 2017, the camp’s former hospital building will host an exciting interactive art installation by acclaimed artist Brigita Ozilins as part of the Ten Days on the Island Festival. This project has involved interviews with members of the Brighton community and will coincide with the national Caravan and Motor Home Club of Australia rally in Pontville.
Brighton Council continues to play a lead role in the Local Government Shared Services program and the South Central Sub-Region, with both initiatives generating significant revenue, costs savings and benefits for ratepayers.
“The Local Government Shared Services Initiative delivered $1.2 million worth of savings/net benefits to participating councils last financial year and the collaborative group of like-minded councils now has 13 participating members, which includes eight from Tasmania and five from the Northern Territory,” Cr Foster said.
“The South Central Sub-region comprising Brighton, Central Highlands, Derwent Valley and Southern Midlands Municipalities, came together in early 2016 to facilitate the four councils in the region working more collaboratively on issues and projects of mutual interest.
“The group meets every two months and has quickly identified a number of important common interests, including tourism, education and training, employment, economic development and strategic resource sharing between the councils.
“We’ve already secured grant funding for two projects and this is just the beginning of a valuable partnership for our region and community.”
Cr Foster said Brighton Council was recognised as a leader in local government administration and performance in Tasmania and was determined to maintain this position for the benefit of all ratepayers and the wider community.