Tasmanian Councils share services and save

Article image - Tasmanian Councils share services and save Planners from Joint Venture Councils meet to prepare planning advice for members.

Sharing services and information technology is set to save Tasmanian councils up to $2.3 million this financial year.

The Local Government Common Services Joint Venture has been operating for less than a year, and already 1200 hours of services are being exchanged each month, equating to approximately nine full-time equivalent staff members working between the councils.

An estimated 15,000 hours are expected to be exchanged this financial year, providing $1.2 million in savings to the group.

Founding members of the venture are southern Tasmanian Councils: Brighton, Central Highlands, Glenorchy, Huon Valley, Sorell, Southern Midlands and Tasman.

Northern Territory councils, the City of Palmerston, Litchfield, West Arnhem and Coomalie Community Government Councils have also recently signed on and several other Tasmanian councils – Glamorgan Spring Bay, Derwent Valley, West Coast and Flinders Councils – also use the Joint Venture’s services.

The group said the savings are expected to grow in the future as more councils become involved.

The independent Chairman of the Local Government Common Services Joint Venture, Peter Murfett, said the value of sharing common services is a logical step for councils.

“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.

“The participating councils now have 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.”

In addition to the Joint Venture, councils sharing the local government-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.

Mr Murfett said the venture allows for more agile governance in fiscally tough times and there are further efficiency measures being looked at.  

“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.

“The future will see our Joint Venture implement cloud solutions 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.”