Study advises against service sharing for northern Tasmanian councils

A study by KPMG of the potential benefits for a group of eight northern councils of sharing the provision of services has concluded that general whole of region services would be difficult to implement, but a move to common technology platforms could deliver efficiencies.

The eight councils covered by the study are West Tamar Council, George Town Council, Dorset Council, Break O’Day Council, Northern Midlands Council, Meander Valley Council, Flinders Council and Launceston City Council.

Launceston is by far the largest with a population and staffing level that is almost that of the other seven councils combined.

The group of councils are facing growing pressures due to higher levels of economic and social disadvantage with an ageing population profile in excess of the Tasmanian median and with five of the eight councils forecast to have a population decline by 2030.

The study found that while the councils had much in common, there were differences that would make the provision of many whole of region services difficult.

It found that more complex shared service models, involving the formation of a separate, jointly owned entity, or centralised service delivery with one council (most logically Launceston), would not be attractive from financial, political and operational perspectives, due to the range of systems and processes that would need to be migrated and the disruption that would follow.

The study concluded that a more sustainable pathway for the region was ongoing and incremental resource sharing at sub-regional levels, along with some whole of region initiatives including joint contracting for selected services and migration to a single information management platform, is a more sustainable pathway for the region to adopt.

The immediate opportunity is a move to common technology platforms (specifically networks, infrastructure and applications) drive harmonisation of business processes and deliver ‘back office’ efficiency gains that can be reinvested into community facing services.

The study suggested that the Northern Councils could be informed by the Common Services Model, adopted by Brighton and its partnering councils.

The study is available here.

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