By TONY FOSTER
AT the end of November, I had the opportunity to deliver my State of the Council address for 2017 and I was pleased to report Brighton is in extremely good shape.
Travelling around our municipality, I must say it has never looked better. And it will look even better by this time next year on the completion of the major work projects Council now has underway. These include the Brighton Streetscape, the Brighton Bowls Club upgrading, Covehill Bridge, Bridgewater and Old Beach Parks, the Old Beach Jetty and the planting of trees on East Derwent Highway.
While this is very good, the community can be assured Council is not being complacent.
Excellent leadership from our General Manager Ron Sanderson has enabled the Council to attract and maintain first-class staff. In fact, all departments of Council have future leaders that will stand our Council in good stead for many years.
Over the coming few years we will inevitability see some significant changes in Council’s leadership team and as such, it is important for both Councillors and senior staff to support, implement and manage appropriate succession planning across the organisation. We are doing this.
Last year I invited senior staff to a think-tank to get the ball rolling and in recent months we have become more serious in our planning for the future.
Brighton is not a Council that waits for things to happen and then react. Rather, we think long term and try to put things in place early.
The world is changing rapidly and we have to adapt and change too. That means considering and reconsidering our vision and priorities, as well as engaging with our community.
There is no doubt that we have come a long way in the past 30 years or so, and while we have developed our townships, we don’t yet have a real centre or heart.
To this end, Brighton certainly looks good with the completion of the major street scaping and my personal view is that this could provide the basis for the development of a municipal centre.
Brighton has an excellent Primary School and School Farm but it is critical that we do more with a particular focus on rural education. We need to build on our primary school base and continue to work towards the establishment of a high school up to year 12 level, possibly with boarding options, that can also cater for the wider midland – highlands area. We should also encourage TAFE and the University to consider programs in Brighton in the area of agriculture training and VET options, making greater use of the specialist knowledge available at the School Farm and Bonorong Park.
Providing a range of educational options, as well as employment opportunities are the keys to keeping families in Brighton rather than seeing people move away.
I know our senior staff, indeed all our Council employees, strongly believe in us continuing to explore these initiatives.
Another real positive for Brighton is the healthy state of our Council finances.
Our latest annual report shows that we continue to operate in surplus, a position we have worked to maintain over the past 20 years. Our Councillors and finance staff are to be commended for this excellent financial performance.
Our business enterprises, Microwise and Brighton Industrial and Housing Corporation along with our professional services arm all performed exceptionally well over the last fiscal year. In fact, Microwise achieved its best result to date and is now well established for a potentially exciting future.
Unlike most Councils Brighton carries no debt and continues to have the lowest rates per capita in Tasmania and the lowest outstanding rate debt. Our rate debt is so low it is actually negative this year, with a number of ratepayers paying in advance. This must surely be an Australian first.
In closing, I would like to wish all in our community the very best for the festive season. Have a very Merry Christmas and a happy and safe New Year. I am confident that Brighton can look forward to more important and exciting initiatives from Council in 2018.