April 2020 A message from the Chairman

We Live in a Strange New World!

It is as though the air is being sucked out of our lungs.

And not because of anything we, the councils or governments have done.

A virus that is covering the world, for which there is no known vaccine.

For Municipal Councils the challenge is particularly harsh, because more than ever they are being reminded that they are a creation of State Governments.

Therefore, as they adjust to new circumstances of higher costs, lower revenues and a large casual workforce, they find themselves not eligible for many of the relief programs emanating from Canberra. The Federal government, saying correctly, local government is a creature of State Governments, but such separation from federal support is creating some very real human and social issues.

Suffice to say Municipal Councils have no alternative but to act quickly, ahead of another curve which is going to exist much longer than the curve that relates to COVID-19.

It is the economic curve, and it is and will be heading in the wrong direction for many months to come.

Higher unemployment within each council region, greater demand and expectation on councils to meet increasing social needs.

Less revenue from commercial and domestic rates as, increasing vacancies of commercial properties and a reduction of 10% to 20% of house values over the next two years.

Right now, preserving cash will be a priority. Therefore, expenditure on capital works that can be put on hold will be. That in turn could lead to less jobs in any given area. A vicious cycle starts to build.

As always there can be upsides from these moments of stress. As is so often said, you don’t want to waste a crisis.

This is where regular communication with ratepayers of the right messages is paramount to how each council emerges from these times.

But of course, the right messages. To re-enforce what are the basic essential services Council should be providing its community. Once the essential services have been decided and articulated, work to deliver the best quality service possible.

Re-examine the ratio of Council employees to services delivered. How many services can be outsourced for better outcomes and less cost to ratepayers.

Of course, there should be the sell off at the appropriate time, of Council assets currently held for which there is no future use.

In short what is occurring now is both challenging and exciting. The best of leaders, and teams of leaders will quickly emerge.

I trust you and your Council are among the best. You will be judged by your ratepayers, government and your peers over the next three years.

It will be many years before the impact of COVID-19 is properly assessed. But nothing will be the same as it was before the start of 2020. A new world is emerging. The next lap in all our lives, and in the administration of Local Government has started.

If we at CT Management can be of assistance just give us a call. We have years of information of trends, and a knowledge of what can occur to make your Council part of the new world.

Stay well.

Jeff Kennett
CT Management Group

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