Brighton achieves significant savings sharing services

SHARING services and information technology will see Brighton Council achieve significant savings for ratepayers this financial year.

Brighton is one of seven southern Tasmanian councils that are members of the Local Government Common Services Joint Venture that will jointly save up to $2.3 million this financial year.

This result, after less than one year in operation, is expected to grow significantly in the future as more councils see the merit of sharing services and become involved.

Members of the Tasmanian Common Services Joint Venture are: Brighton, Central Highlands, Glenorchy, Huon Valley, Sorell, Southern Midlands and Tasman Councils, and the City of Palmerston, Litchfield, West Arnhem and Coomalie Community Government Councils in the Northern Territory. The Glamorgan Spring Bay, Derwent Valley, West Coast and Flinders councils also use the Joint Venture’s services.

Brighton Mayor Tony Foster said currently some 1200 hours of services are being exchanged each month, equating to nine full-time equivalent staff members working between the councils. An estimated 15,000 hours of services are expected to be exchanged between councils this financial year, providing $1.2 million in savings to the group.

“In addition, councils sharing the Brighton Council-developed Microwise software are achieving annual savings of $1.1 million by not having to use alternative more expensive software. Currently, 27 councils use the Microwise VacciWise software and 18 councils use the PropertyWise solution,” Cr Foster said.

“The value of sharing common services can not be overestimated and goes far beyond the millions of dollars saved.

“It is a clear demonstration of the increased efficiency being achieved by the member councils and in fact, formalises and significantly expands previously

ad hoc arrangements where councils shared knowledge and skills.

“Importantly, we are maintaining our independent decision-making at Brighton and preserve local democracy.

“Through our leadership, local government now has a better appreciation of the benefits of sharing services, understanding that it provides opportunities for increased revenue and staff subsidisation, as well as accelerated learning outcomes for staff working in a range of environments.

“For example, councils may have existing staff and or assets (usually plant and equipment such as vehicles, road surfacing and specialist parks’ equipment) that can be further used by other councils providing to significant cost savings and efficiencies.

“The growth in demand for services is being fuelled by the continual increase in legislative requirements being imposed on councils, the difficulty in recruiting and retaining experienced professional staff and the State Government’s reform agenda that is encouraging local government to achieve efficiencies.”

Cr Foster said said the Local Government Common Services Joint Venture was delivering valuable savings and new efficiencies for Brighton and the other participating councils.

“This is being achieved through Increased collaboration between Councils, joint Investment in human resources, assets and information technology, implementation of common systems, processes and procedures, and increased human resource and asset utilisation.

“The future will see our Joint Venture implement cloud solution to further reduce IT costs and create a seamless platform to conduct work for any council from any location with a virtual office reducing the disadvantage of isolation.

“The success of the Tasmanian initiative is being recognised with four Northern Territory Councils joining our joint venture and a number of other interstate councils currently considering membership,” Cr Foster said.