The City of Greater Geraldton has been working hard to identify efficiencies in order to lower costs and keep rate rises down.
City Mayor, Ian Carpenter said that City staff had identified more than $5.5 million in efficiencies and savings in the past two years.
“Over the last two years City staff have identified a large number of internal efficiencies and savings which have cut costs by more than $2 million,” he said.
“This year 47 positions, or 13% of the workforce, including manager positions were cut from the payroll whilst overall operating costs have been reduced by $4 million and the number of Council vehicles has also been reduced.
“Reductions in utility costs have also been achieved via investment in geothermal systems for the Aquarena pool heating and Art Gallery air conditioning,” Mayor Carpenter added.
The City has also worked extensively with the community to gain a better understanding of the range and level of services they want and need and to identify efficiencies in the delivery of services.
“Extensive community engagement undertaken by the City via two Community Panels and the Community Summit has provided Council with a clear understanding of the services the community values,” he said.
“Three years ago the future rates increases were projected at 7.6% and the community said this was too high. Since then we have delivered reduced rates of 2.25% in 2013/14 and 4.3% last financial year. This year we have managed to reduce the rate rise even further and set it at 3.9% and are projecting future rate increases of 3.9% in the future.
Budget reductions and cuts at a glance
Cuts and savings in the 2015/16 incorporate the recommendations and priorities of the community made via two Community Panels, who critically reviewed our range and level of services and capital works priorities, and the priority list of non-mandatory services developed during the Community Summit. In total, the community has spent more than 6500 hours reviewing every aspect of city operations.
- Reducing City Vibrancy strategies funding allocation to $180,000 - providing a $50,000 saving;
- Halving the Sister Cities budget – providing a $20,000 saving;
- Discontinuing membership with national research associations – providing a $25,000 saving;
- Cancelling underutilised software subscriptions – providing a $70,000 saving;
- Focusing on food inspection services and reducing other health programs – providing a saving of $45,000;
- Reducing of recurrent community grants by $241,000, and allocating $150,000 to signature events – providing a saving of $71,000;
- Reducing non-recurrent Community Grants to $215,000 – providing a saving of $155,000;
- Discontinuing bulk kerb-side collection but retaining a service for pensioners only - providing a saving of $140,000;
- Reducing Australia Day expenditure to $80,000 – providing a saving of $50,000;
- Reducing Community Event Support to $81,000 – providing a saving of $25,000;
- Staging the Midwest Art Prize bi-annually – providing a saving of $85,000;
- Discontinuing the Artist in residence program – providing a saving of $15,000;
- Cutting back on Cultural Celebrations – providing a saving of $40,000;
- Discontinuing some Community Engagement Projects – providing a saving of $52,000;
- Reduction of Library opening hours and restriction of services – providing a saving of $58,000;
- Tightening of the Heritage Budget – providing a saving of $36,000; and
- Reducing Mullewa Community Group support and events – providing a saving of $26,500.