Preparing for the future

Kelvin Spiller, Chief Executive Officer

Maroochy Council takes seriously its responsibility of managing future growth in an environment that is known for its diversity. The Shire is one of the fastest growing Councils in Australia and the population is expected to double over the next 10 years. Such rapid population growth brings with it obligations and responsibility - to manage the region's natural resources and preserve the environment, while at the same time providing for the social and economic infrastructure needs of the present and future population.

Maroochy, along with the Cooloola, Noosa and Caloundra Councils, make up what is known as the Sunshine Coast, located an hour north of Brisbane. Its key strengths are its climate, environment and rapid access to metropolitan facilities.

However, like all growing areas, there are many pressure points on the local economy and population. This is being addressed by all the key stakeholders. These include the University of the Sunshine Coast, the Sunshine Coast Business Development Corporation, Tourism Sunshine Coast, Queensland State Development Department and the Federal Government through the Area Consultative Committee.

In the meantime, Council is preparing for the future by providing a clear framework for the direction of the Shire and the Council as an organisation. This framework was developed through a range of key initiatives.

The most recent include the following.

  • New Town Planning Scheme (Maroochy Plan).
  • Economic Development and Tourism Strategies.
  • Value for Money Service Reviews for the Council Organisation (Best Value) - A Best Value Review of 30 operational areas and services across the organisation to ensure that services provided are efficient and meet or exceed best practice bench marks.
  • Information technology and Telecommunication Strategies.
  • Technology Business Incubator in conjunction with the University of the Sunshine Coast
  • Business returns and Operation of four businesses including an Airport, Quarry, Water and Sewerage and Caravan Parks.
  • Financial Planning and Debt Reduction with an annual budget of $200 million - A strategic financial model was developed to benchmark Council's performance against other Councils and to implement best practice financial management strategies.
  • A major Organisational Change Management Program. The organisational structure was realigned to meet the future challenges and our obligation to ratepayers to achieve "value for money" for services.

A special Organisational Change and Learning Branch was introduced to reflect a new approach to the professional and personal development of the 950 staff as part of the Learning Organisation Strategy which embraces change and opportunity. In so doing, we are preparing to meet the changing economic, infrastructure, social, environmental and national and international pressures that are impacting upon the Shire. Workplace learning for staff is seen as being critical to successfully meet the needs of this future.

With the election of 12 new Councillors in March this year for a four year term and a Mayor elected directly by the people, strategic direction is now being consolidated as we prepare for the challenges of the new century. We are committed to build on the achievements of the past year as we focus on delivering "value for money" for services that meet community needs and expectations.