By TONY FOSTER
Mayor of Brighton
BRIGHTON Council has achieved a great deal over recent years and we, and our community, have much to be proud of.
Our sound financial management with our revolutionary flat rate system means that Brighton residents and businesses will face minimal rate increases this year – up just 2.5 percent or $20 a year for homes and $5 for residential land – and we are passing on in full, the savings from the new water and sewerage arrangements.
In the State Auditor-General’s analysis of Councils’ performance, Brighton rated top in two of the three key indicators and second in the other.
Yet at the same time we are hearing calls from Government and commentators for Council amalgamations and Local Government Minister Jim Cox even suggested that three ‘super councils’, one each covering the south, north and north west of the State could be a solution.
This is a fanciful suggestion that must be rejected at the outset.
While Brighton has absolutely no problem with council amalgamations where required and where they best meets the needs of ratepayers, and we support the sharing of services and facilities, bigger is not always best!
Brighton continues to demonstrate that we can provide the services required by ratepayers, efficiently and cost effectively. Why should the ratepayers of Brighton, who boast a well-run council with a solid balance sheet, be saddled with the debt of inefficient councils with a history of poor management, simply to create larger local government authorities?
For example, we are one of the few councils to adopt a flat rate system. This is working extremely well for ratepayers and as a result they are not being penalised by hefty hikes in rates each year. This, with our sound financial management and operational efficiency means that we can pass on the full savings of the transfer of water and sewerage services to ratepayers. We would not want to lose this great advantage.
The creation of regional bodies, such as the Southern Water Corporation, to supply the major services like water and sewerage is positive and ratepayers and councils will reap the benefits over time. But local community services are best provided at a local level and this is where Brighton enjoys a significant advantage.
We work closely with our community and are able to be innovative in the provision of services and the development of our municipality.
Our ratepayers would not be best served if Brighton became just a small part of a much larger southern Tasmanian municipality.
We have some exciting plans for Brighton’s future which will enhance our position as one of Tasmania’s most progressive, innovative and efficient councils, providing the best possible service for our ratepayers and community.