Local councils persist despite withdrawals

David Braithwaite

WELLINGTON and East Gippsland shire councils will continue looking at ways to share services after two other councils withdrew from an initiative.

South Gippsland and Bass Coast shire councils have withdrawn from the Gippsland Shared Services Initiative, in which the four organisations were looking at ways to deliver corporate and information technology services.

For the past five years, the councils had been working on establishing a shared services operating model, with business cases completed by Deloitte and KPMG, which pointed to substantial future savings and efficiencies.

Last year, the councils received a $4.5 million grant from Local Government Victoria to fully integrate their information systems as a first step to providing regional shared services, with an initial focus on electronic records and document management.

Wellington Shire Council chief executive David Morcom was disappointed South Gippsland and Bass Coast would not continue in the initiative.

“Both have advised us that they believe they can find these opportunities within their own organisations,” he said.

“Wellington Shire’s management team remains of the firm belief that there are huge opportunities to improve the way that local government operates, reduces costs, drives longer term efficiencies and improves community services by joining some of our functions with other councils.

“At the moment both Wellington and East Gippsland are in discussion about continuing to pioneer this important work that will change local government.”

To fund a freeze in the rate rise in the 2020-21 budget, which is forecast to result in a $1.1 million deficit, Wellington council will look to find savings in its operations.