16 October 2015 Transformation to Sustainability

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Explore inspiring articles, discover events, connect with locals and learn more about Coffs Harbour City Council.


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16 October 2015 Transformation to Sustainability

Coffs Harbour City Council has been working hard over a number of years to make sure that the organisation is financially sustainable going into the future.


 “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 efficiencies.


“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 structure internally.


“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.”