Sustainable Councils: Time For A Reset
With the recovery from COVID-19 ongoing and continuing to impact Councils, continuing rate capping or pegging in many jurisdictions, and the greater demand for community consultation and scrutiny, Local Government is being held to account like no other level of government.
The common thread across the country is Council’s financial sustainability and the “true capacity” to continue to provide the current range of services at their current level over the long term. All jurisdictions are required to maintain financial and fiscal responsibility with financial principles mandated in each State.
The impact of rate capping has taken hold in Victoria with Councils operating costs being squeezed and capital budgets diminishing due to the loss of revenue raising capacity.
Prior to rate capping in Victoria the average rate increase between 2006/07 and 2015/16 was 6% p.a. Victorian Councils, on average, have lost 3.8% per annum revenue raising capacity over the last 6 years!
In NSW we have assisted Councils with SRV applications to ensure they can continue to invest in their community infrastructure.
Queensland Councils are now required to meet KPI’s around financial sustainability with the recent introduction of the Sustainability Framework for Queensland Local Governments.
We are assisting Queensland Councils with the development of service catalogues, service reviews and reviewing service costs over the long term.
We believe now is the perfect time to review the strategic direction and reset the service offerings to a sustainable footing. Councils that cannot afford to deliver the necessary levels of service to their communities over the longer term are not sustainable.
At CT Management Group we provide Service Management consultancy to assist Councils define their:
- Levels of service.
- Understand demand for each service, its impact on service cost over time.
- Priority of services one to the other- can Council afford to provide low priority services?
We produce a Service Plan per service along with a financial sustainability analysis of the Council’s long-term viability based on the outputs of the Service Plans.
We can then assist with the detailed analysis of each service via individual Service Reviews.
Increasingly Councils are reviewing their service catalogues and contrasting these to their strategic plans (Council Plan, Community Strategic Plan or Corporate Plan) to ensure service provision reflects the priorities of the current Council and the community.
Finally, a comparative choice process can be facilitated through community consultation utilising the outputs from the Service Planning process to assist reset the service priorities.
Our service prioritisation method is enshrined in our Service Planning Platform that we utilise to collect and analyse the data from Council in undertaking the service planning project.
We are equipped with a range of products (Long Term Financial Plan, Service Planning Profile and Capital Works Evaluator, Asset Renewal Demand Calculator) to support the asset, service and financial sustainability analytics.
Of the 30 or more Councils we have undertaken Service Planning with the vast majority have or will make adjustment to services either through cessation of services or the lowering of levels of service.
It is a rarity that an adjustment to operating costs is avoided.
The knowledge gained enables Councils to design a preferred future based on sustainable outcomes, as opposed to a probable future that is unplanned.
We look forward to continuing to assist Councils remain sustainable in the long run able to fulfill their promises to their communities.
Should your Council require a Service Management Framework or Service Reviews or wish to undertake a financial sustainability review please contact Merv Hair at CT Management Group by completing the form below.
CT Management Group