Councils to share and save costs

David Braithwaite

WELLINGTON Shire Council will continue looking into ways of combining back-office service with other Gippsland councils.

Wellington, East Gippsland, South Gippsland and Bass Coast shire councils last year announced they would explore the possibility of establishing the Gippsland Shared Services Initiative to deliver combined corporate and information technology services.

After completing a business case, the four councils are seeking $5 million from the state government to continue the initiative.

Local Government Victoria appointed KPMG to work with the participating councils to prepare the formal application for funding from the state government’s Rural Councils Transformation Program.

When the initiative was announced in July last year, the four councils acknowledged there could be job losses.

“It is likely that the new entity will employ fewer staff to deliver each shared service function than the four councils combined do now,” a joint statement read at the time.

It was expected that a three-year transition period will be needed to set up the shared services entity.

Councillor Scott Rossetti said the four councils were looking at improving the way they worked.

“It means we can either have lower rate rises or do more with the existing rate base,” he said during last Tuesday night’s council meeting.

“This initiative is all about finding ways we can work with other councils to be able to do things more efficiently.

“Things like IT – we’ve been a very good neighbour to our other councils in Gippsland with assisting them set up their IT systems.

“They’ve been able to help us with other things. “This (shared services initiative) is formalising it.”

The Municipal Association of Victoria and Local Government Victoria are supportive of councils pursuing shared services, not just council collaboration.