Building long term sustainable local governments

IN an unpredictable world, sustainability and success requires new levels of resilience and organisational agility, delivered by responsible practices that will build our communities for future generations.

Sustainability is imperative across social, environmental, political, technical, and economic dimensions. As the level of government that is closest to its community, there are increasing expectations on Councils to provide new services (or services that other layers of government used to provide), which increases financial demands on local communities.

Long-term sustainability relies on the capacity of our community to contribute revenue for Councils to provide these services. Most services that Councils provide do not generate a financial return, such as libraries and roads.

These services are essential and are unlikely to be provided by the private sector.

All activities require both operating and capital funding, which must be matched against annual rate revenue.

In larger Councils there is a greater opportunity to spread these costs across a bigger rate base. Regardless of the size and capability of a Council, ratepayers often demand similar standards of service which places significant financial pressure on Councils with a smaller rate base.

The capacity to provide the required legislative services and respond to the community’s needs places pressure on Councils with inevitable decisions on trade-offs which can have short and long-term implications on sustainability.

Councils must adopt and implement overarching sustainability principals.

There is no doubt in the future smaller Councils will need to look at their sustainability and capability to provide services to their communities.

This will not be easy and brave decisions will have to be made.

If Councils don’t grasp the opportunity to change, history tells us that change will be made to us.

Des Noll


Wattle Range Council

Comments are my opinion and not those of council.