By TONY FOSTER
THE local government elections are now over and Brighton has its newly elected Council. I congratulate the successful Councillors and thank all candidates for their commitment to serve our municipality.
I want to take this opportunity to thank the ratepayers of the Brighton Municipality for the support they have given to me and to the other members of our Council. It is indeed a privilege and honour to serve our community and I for one, certainly don’t take our local government elections for granted. The Council elected in October will serve for four years and this promises to be a very important time for Brighton.As I have previously reported, we have made great advances in recent years and can look forward to continuing the growth and development that promises much for our community.
I can assure you that our Council is determined to manage much of that growth and development and to ensure that we can continue to provide the services and facilities required by our growing community.
Brighton is in an enviable position and we have cemented our position as the most efficient local council in the State. As reported in this issue of Brighton Community News, the Tasmanian Auditor-General has identified Brighton Council as having the lowest staff ratio as a percentage of population in the State, the lowest rates per capita, yet the highest average six-year operating surplus ratio and the highest asset renewal funding ratio in Tasmania.
We also lead the State in commercial activities, particularly from our Microwise business, with revenue in the past financial year of approximately $1.4 million. This amounts to almost 10 per cent of Council’s total income and is ploughed back into providing improved services facilities for our community. Wholly-owned by Brighton Council, Microwise develops specific local government information technology software. The unique software and IT support expertise is sold to councils and local authorities throughout Australia and the South Pacific, earning valuable income for Brighton.
On top of this, Brighton is one of the very few councils in Tasmania to be debt free and we consistently produce budget surpluses – this year some $1.3 million after providing $5 million for important capital works.
Of course, our Fair Rating System is the catalyst for many of our achievements and I am proud that we continue to have the lowest rate increase of any council in Tasmania – this year household rates went up by just 40 cents a week. We are setting the example for local government in this State and we’ve kept annual rate increases at or below the rate of inflation for some 17 years.
As well as the income we receive from Microwise, we continue to lead the way in providing services to other councils. Again, this recognises the skills and capabilities of our management and staff and benefits ratepayers and the community.
The efforts of past Councillors and Council staff have established a fantastic platform for the new Council just elected.
It will be our responsibility to continue the work for the benefit for all our ratepayers, be they residential, business and industrial or those living and working on the land.
We have achieved impressive results to date and I am determined to see that our 17,000 residents have access to the best possible local government services, as well as continuingly improving housing and health, education and employment opportunities.
Again, my sincere thanks for your ongoing support.