Sharing resources, sharing rewards

Two sets of councils in Tasmania are proving that you can do more with less.

In November 2015, Councils throughout Tasmania were prompted by the State’s Local Government Minister Peter Gutwein to consider either voluntary amalgamation or strategic resource sharing arrangements to better serve their communities.

As a result, Kentish, Latrobe, Waratah-Wynyard, and Circular Head in Tasmania engaged the Australian Centre of Excellence for Local Government and the University of Technology Sydney Centre for Local Government (UTS:CLG) to review their resource sharing arrangements.

The review considered governance and decision-making arrangements, the current State Government reform agenda, strategic capacity of the councils and a financial analysis of savings from resource sharing arrangements.

As part of their resource sharing, the four councils have been able to achieve tangible and ongoing savings which are increasing annually; with Kentish and Latrobe Councils saving over $750,000 and Circular Head and Waratah-Wynyard Councils saving close to $1million last year.

Other achievements include standardised policies, frameworks and planning; cross collaboration across the councils; stronger career paths and improved service quality.

“While the traditional expectation of rates, roads and rubbish remain, councils, no matter what size, are being asked to do more but with less,” said Mayor Peter Freshney of Latrobe Council.

“To meet ratepayer expectations and continuing cost shifting from State Government, Councils needs to be creative.  

“The Latrobe and Kentish Councils have been proactive in this space, having resource shared staff, procurement, plant and equipment in some form since 2010.”

 “The Latrobe and Kentish Councils engaged the Australian Centre of Excellence for Local Government (ACELG) (now the University of Technology Sydney Centre for Local Government) to conduct an independent review of the success or otherwise of our existing resource sharing arrangements,” said Mayor Don Thwaites of Kentish Council.

“Learnings identified in the review are that trust and equity between the Latrobe and Kentish Councils have been key factors in the success of its resource sharing arrangement which have also allowed the councils to maintain local representation” said Centre Director, Associate Professor Roberta Ryan.

“Both Councils have seen improved levels of service quality, economies of scope and scale and increased organisational development and strategic capacity through resource sharing.”

“This is quantifiable with conservative data analysis revealing $326,544 savings in the 2014/15 financial year and $594,241 in the 2015/16 financial year,” said Mayor Thwaites.

The Latrobe and Kentish Councils are keen to continue to grow, enhance and refine their resource sharing arrangements.

“By being fiscally responsible and responsive to current and future challenges as we further refine our resource sharing arrangement, we are laying a solid foundation to ensure that resource sharing continues to benefit ratepayers while retaining local and accessible representation,” said Mayor Freshney.