Coffs Harbour City Council has been working hard over a number of
years to make sure that the organisation is financially sustainable going into
“We have been very open
about the fact that we had been running a $1.8m annual deficit in the costs of
delivering community services,” said Steve McGrath, Council’s General Manager.
“Plus we had a $6.2m shortfall every year in the funds we need to repair and
replace the $2bn worth of ageing community assets like bridges, roads,
drainage, buildings and playgrounds that we look after.
“In order to address this overall gap of $8m we’ve taken a
multi-layered approach. One – for a long time, we’ve been on an ongoing crusade
to improve efficiencies and reduce operating expenditure costs. We’ve also been
looking at ways that we can maximise our commercial operations. Our goal is to
achieve $3.5m savings every year in better asset management and other
“Two - we have secured special rate variations after extensive
engagement with the community that will help us address the costs associated
with maintaining and replacing the infrastructure that underpins our ability to
deliver services at the level the community requires.
“Three – we have implemented an ongoing ‘Transformation to
Sustainability’ (T2S) programme with independent consultants to find ways to be
even more cost-effective in the way we operate as an organisation.
“In 2014, the consultants delivered a three-part strategy that
outlined how we could change and achieve major savings. A key part of the
strategy was a restructure of the organisation and our operating practices
which, once fully implemented, will
deliver annual savings of $3.2m. This strategy includes redesigning
our processes and operating different delivery models for the services we
provide. During October to December last year, we finalised the restructure of
our organisation’s management which has created a much ‘flatter’ management
“By undertaking these initial changes in the way we deliver
services, we’ve already managed to find $1.035m in savings after just one year.
The next stage has been the re-engineering of processes and new ways of
providing community services in the wider organisation. This is an ongoing
process which we expect to see finalised by the end of this year. So far, we’ve
seen the creation of some new posts and the continuation, unchanged, of others.
However, the new structures have also established that some positions are
surplus to requirements.
“All staff are being given the opportunity to apply for positions
in the new structures and we’re also making the most of redeployment options. As
stated, this is an ongoing process, but with the goal of achieving $3.2m of
savings every year.
“We know we asked a lot of the community with the special rate
variations and, through T2S, we’re also fulfilling our promise to streamline
the way we operate so we can continue to provide the services that the Coffs
Harbour community wants and needs.”