INDEPENDENT research has shown that Brighton ratepayers are firmly opposed to council amalgamation.
In an extensive survey conducted at the beginning of May, some 60 percent of ratepayers polled expressed their opposition to a merger and stated they wanted Brighton to remain as an independent, stand-alone municipality.
The survey of a statistically valid representative sample of the Brighton community was conducted by Myriad Research to provide Council with an objective assessment of community perceptions and preferences in relation to a range of merger options and other associated issues to assist consideration of the State Government’s ‘Voluntary Amalgamations Program’.
Brighton Mayor Tony Foster said while Council was yet to receive the final report from the consultants, the interim advice provided showed that Brighton ratepayers remain firmly opposed to any amalgamation.
“Some 60 percent of respondents stated they wanted Brighton to remain as an independent, stand-alone council,” Cr Foster said.
“Other options such as a greater rural council encompassing Brighton, Southern Midlands, Derwent Valley, Central Highlands and the rural parts of Clarence, and a merger with one neighbouring council drew little support, and the concept of a greater Hobart urban council comprising Brighton, Glenorchy, Hobart, Clarence and Kingborough was firmly rejected by ratepayers, drawing only 7.7 percent support from those polled.
“As a consequence and an alternative to further considering any merger proposals, we will continue our strong push to develop our Common Services Joint Venture initiative, which is already generating significant benefits for Brighton and the other participating councils.
“This has collectively saved participating councils some $70,000 for the month of April alone – its first full month of operation with the promise of increased savings and enhanced services for ratepayers in the years ahead.
“The annual benefit of the common service exchange for participating councils is conservatively estimated at $844,000 in the next financial year, rising exponentially in future years.”
The exchange of services between councils is conducted at a considerable discount when compared to external consultant rates, or internal and often under-used resourcing, so generating savings and enhancing council sustainability. The joint venture is assisting in encouraging the retention of skilled staff and fully using the talents of the people employed within the participating councils.
Further, the common service exchange is generating:
- Economies of scale between councils (common documents, procedures and systems);
- Improved networking, relationships and learning opportunities;
- Improvements in staff skills and knowledge of local government as a result of people working across multiple councils; and
- Increased responsibility for staff, with employees delivering services across councils becoming leaders in Tasmania’s local government sector.
Cr Foster said the efficiencies already achieved and the future potential of the joint venture are significant and that it is already and will in the future, deliver substantial and measurable benefits for ratepayers.
“We are strongly of the view that Brighton’s efforts and those of our partner councils would better serve ratepayers through the continued development of this shared services model.
“This is based on the unequivocal views of our ratepayers, the fact the Brighton Council has not received any clear or indeed speculative approach from a neighbouring council to undertake a joint feasibility study on voluntary amalgamations, and the significant outcomes from our new and enhanced Common Services Joint Venture initiative,” Cr Foster said.