Better Councils make Better Communities

What’s it all about?

Queenslanders have said they want better value for money from their councils.

However, Queensland councils are under ever increasing financial burdens, with annual financial shortfalls that will need to be managed through better productivity and financial performance.

Savings of the magnitude required will only result if councils develop new business models, challenge traditional assumptions and find innovative ways to improve service delivery.

Better Councils, Better Communities is a council driven project designed to support councils in their efforts to achieve better productivity and financial performance outcomes. The Better Councils, Better Communities website provides a space where Queensland councils can share this work with the community.

FarmerRatepayers have said they want to understand how Queensland councils strive to move their communities forward on a financially sustainable pathway – the Better Councils, Better Communities website aims to deliver on this request by sharing stories that deepen community understanding of:

  • the magnitude of council business
  • the myriad of service delivery and operations managed by councils
  • the continued effort by councils to drive improvement in performance and efficiency.

Why are we doing this now?

Queensland councils currently have access to a legislative environment that can positively influence their own financial sustainability – including significant local decision-making powers.

Who will benefit?

The Better Councils, Better Communities project will enable Queensland ratepayers to enjoy improved value for money from their councils through a state-wide productivity and efficiency strategy, without the need for more debt or rate rises.

Better Councils TV Advert

Better Councils, Better Communities Television Commercial

This 30 second advertisement runs with the aim of reminding communities of the important, valuable and often innovative work that councils do.

The Better Councils, Better Communities project is about local government listening and responding by driving a culture of high performance to ensure efficient and effective service delivery to our communities.

Nearly a year ago the Burdekin Shire Council pledged to support the Better Councils, Better Communities campaign to empower local government to control their own destiny.

Since then council has taken up the challenge making sure that we promote the ways that we have found to boost productivity and celebrate the gains made on behalf of our community. We have been using the Ready Set Go benchmarking tool to analyse our performance and decide where we need to direct our energies to demonstrate value for money to our community.

Now is the time for us to roll out a new television advertising campaign to promote the Better Councils, Better Communities ideal.

This 30 second advertisement will run for about six weeks across the state on all commercial networks and some digital platforms with the aim of reminding communities of the important, valuable and often innovative work that councils do.

View on YouTube

Better Councils Better Communities Logo

Burdekin supports Better Councils, Better Communities

Media Release
Burdekin Shire Council has pledged its support for a new local government productivity and performance project to improve service delivery to Queensland communities.

Media Release

Posted on 5 Nov 2014

Burdekin Shire Council has pledged its support for a new local government productivity and performance project to improve service delivery to Queensland communities.

Mayor Bill Lowis said Burdekin had joined with other Queensland councils to support the Better Councils, Better Communities project which was launched at the recent Local Government Association of Queensland Annual Conference in Mackay.

“We are committed to delivering value to our local community, but all councils are under an increasing financial burden as a result of downward pressure on revenue raising at the same time as the state and federal governments reduce funding to councils while handing us more responsibility,” he said.

“The combined effect of revenue limits and lower funding has cost the local government sector approximately $800 million a year – and this can’t be funded through more debt, rate rises or grants from external governments.

“As councils, we need to manage this challenge through better productivity and financial performance as well as ensuring the community knows more about the essential work we do.”

Cr Lowis said Burdekin Shire Council understood and respected the cost-of-living pressures faced by its ratepayers and residents.

“We also understand that our ratepayers and residents want to know more about council initiatives.

“That is why Burdekin Shire Council has agreed to support the Better Councils, Better Communities project to help us better tell our story to the community and respond to the challenge of balancing service delivery with cost of living pressures,” he said.

“This will be a performance and productivity improvement project designed to achieve significant savings over the next few years through new business models, challenging traditional assumptions and finding innovative ways to improve service delivery.”

Cr Lowis said the LGAQ Annual Conference heard a report about a recent LGAQ market research project which showed a majority of Queenslanders wanted better value for money from their councils and wanted to see how their council’s financial management compared to other councils.

“The Better Councils, Better Communities project is about local government listening and responding by driving a culture of high performance to ensure efficient and effective service delivery to our communities,” he said.

“The benchmarking exercise will enable our council to assess its performance in relation to our peers – an honest assessment in comparison with similar councils – and to pursue productivity improvements.”

Cr Lowis said benchmarking would measure core council functions and activities in areas of financial performance and operations.

“Our intention is that, through a productivity and efficiency strategy, our ratepayers will enjoy improved value for money from their council,” he said.

“Better Councils, Better Communities will provide our staff with better information and tools to support their professional duties and will help council to deliver services competitively and to foster innovation and continuous improvement.”

The Better Councils, Better Communities project will establish benchmarks by council type/segment, comprising a suite of high level performance indicators which will be released publicly and will also be used to publish an annual “State of Local Government” report.

 

Think One Team Logo

One Team One Council

The Burdekin Shire Council is undergoing a change which will benefit both employees and the community by changing the mindset of staff to think and work as ‘One team, one council.’

The division between the outdoor and indoor departments is disappearing and employees are working in unity to deliver the best services to council customers – our ratepayers.

The Concept

Burdekin Shire Council Chief Executive Officer Matthew Magin has brought about a change of culture within the organisation by talking with each department and employee to gauge sentiment within Council.

Mr Magin found that employees needed more cohesion and began taking the organisation on a journey to create a united workforce, calling the project – ‘One team, one council’.

The Burdekin Shire Council is undergoing a change which will benefit both employees and the community by changing the mindset of staff to think and work as ‘One team, one council.’
The division between the outdoor and indoor departments is disappearing and employees are working in unity to deliver the best services to council customers – our ratepayers.

“We have a great group of people working for this team, but we needed to look more holistically at how we worked,” CEO Mr Magin said.

“We needed to understand how to change the silo-approach culture where decisions were made by one person and bring a broader decision-making group together and we need to get that through to all of our employees.”

The project

Council developed a Senior Leadership Group made up of the managers and a Senior Supervisors Group to ensure the message continued to filter down the line to all employees.

Council employed a professional development company to provide these two groups with proper tools and understanding, in order for them to drive the project and influence the employee mindset of ‘One team, one council.’

Burdekin Shire Council has now introduced a planned and systematic skills development program specifically aimed at effective project management within council and an emphasis on effective workforce planning.

Council is also reviewing its training budget to ensure the focus is on council priorities and that it delivers an effective return on investment.

To achieve these aims council employees will be asked to model the highest standards of personal professional and organisational values and behaviour.

Part of the change includes a new corporate plan which for the first time at Burdekin, enables every employee to see where they sit under the corporate plan.

The corporate plan also has measures by which the community can evaluate council’s performance, and goals council can strive toward.

The word

“Individually and as a group, our employees are responsible for building and maintaining council’s reputation locally as perceived by ratepayers and community organisations, regionally by neighbouring councils and both State and Federal Governments.

At the core of the ‘One team, one council’ mantra is our commitment to our customers. New thinking is encouraged to improve service delivery and any idea is a good idea as they demonstrate employee engagement and creativity.”
CEO Matthew Magin

The result

This new commitment to Council’s customers is bringing tangible results for the council.

“Compliments logged with council have risen 100 per cent on last year’s figures and complaints have dropped.

“These are the sorts of results that show me, our Councillors and our team that we are on the right path.

“I am very proud of the way our team has picked up the ‘One team, one council’ theme and have run with it.”
CEO Matthew Magin

Better Councils What Councils Do

What Councils Do

The range of services provided by your local council is in direct response to the needs and priorities of your local community.

A council's geographical location, size, development and growth plans, and population profile all come into play.

The range of services provided by your local council is in direct response to the needs and priorities of your local community. A council’s geographical location, size, development and growth plans, and population profile all come into play.

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Mostly Councils decide what services they will provide locally, however there are some services which Councils are required to provide by legislation. These include:

  • planning and development services, including building assessment;
  • some environmental health services, such as monitoring cooling towers for Legionnaire’s Disease;
  • fire prevention (some building inspection, and some bushfire prevention planning functions are a duty, others are discretionary);
  • dog and cat management;
  • some administrative requirements, such as preparing strategic plans for the area, maintaining an office, employing a Chief Executive Officer and supporting the elected Council.

Services that your local council may provide include:

  • Town planning and building assessment
  • Employment and training programs
  • Economic development
  • Environmental health
  • Dog and cat management
  • Pest and weed control
  • Road construction and maintenance
  • Footpath construction and maintenance
  • Street lighting
  • Rubbish collection
  • Stormwater drainage
  • Traffic and parking regulations
  • Sporting fields, courts and facilities
  • Public swimming pools
  • Halls
  • Cemeteries
  • Arts and cultural programs
  • Youth advisory services, programs and activities
  • Coastal care
  • Recycling
  • Tourism information and support
  • Information services
  • Parks, reserves and picnic areas
  • Caravan parks
  • Airports
  • Aged care
  • Crime prevention
  • Festivals and events
  • Food safety inspections
  • Water and waste water (sewerage)
Better Councils What Queenslanders Say

What Queenslanders Say about their Councils

What is very significant is that 66% of community respondents say they would like to see their council’s financial management compared to other similar councils, and 73% of staff and elected members surveyed say they want to see how their council’s financial management compares to similar councils.

Community and Staff Survey

A project as important as Better Councils, Better Communities needs to be informed by comprehensive market research. It cannot operate on hunches and instinct.

In July 2014, the LGAQ commissioned a Council Perceptions market research project with the Queensland community, elected members and council staff.

Results from the market research provide an insight into community and council staff views on the role and importance of councils and will guide the development of the Better Councils, Better Communities productivity and performance project.

The most significant finding from the survey was that a majority of Queenslanders say they want better value for money from their councils and to see how their council’s financial management compares to other councils.

Note: the statistics presented below are overall (state-wide) results.

The following is a video snapshot from around the state… telling what Queenslanders think about their councils.

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Importance of Local Government

63% of community respondents identify council as an essential layer of government.

56% of community respondents say their local council is a provider of vital services every day of the year.

Regional identity and the role of government

About two thirds of community respondents believe their local region has a strong identity and 60% agree the local council plays an important role in their region’s identify.

So far, so good.

What is very significant is that 66% of community respondents say they would like to see their council’s financial management compared to other similar councils, and 73% of staff and elected members surveyed say they want to see how their council’s financial management compares to similar councils.

Trust in Local Government

But, worryingly, only 37% of community respondents trust their council to do the best for the community.

Engagement, visibility and vision

Only 49% of community respondents believe their council has a clear vision for the community.

Just 40% of community respondents agree council engages them on important matters, and only 44% say that council’s work is visible.

When asked if their council’s visibility was better than two to three years ago, only 25% of community respondents said yes. 75% said no, did not know or were neutral.

These results are reinforced by 73% of community respondents saying they had neither seen nor heard, or did not know if they had seen or heard, about recent council activities/initiatives.

Value for money, productivity, efficiency and benchmarking

Only 28% of community respondents agree their council provides value for money. A very significant 72% do not agree or hold no opinion.

Only 35% of local government staff think their council provides value for money.

Note: Two Colmar Brunton surveys were conducted, one for community members (1021 respondents) and one for council staff (403 respondents). For both surveys, the report presented overall (state-wide) results, as well as results segmented by four council types: coastal, south east Queensland, resources, and rural/remote.

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