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Feeling the budget cuts? How local governments can do more with less

Posted on May 1st, 2018 in Local State Government

The Australian Government has committed over $75 billion in funding for transport infrastructure over the next decade, but four years of frozen grants have seen local governments struggling to get projects off the ground.

Under ‘Fair Go’ rate capping, Financial Assistance Grants did not increase in line with the consumer price index or growing populations between 2014 and 2017. With many councils having no way of generating their own revenue, departments have been forced to reassess their priorities and consider new approaches to meet the needs of residents.

Think like a business

With citizens becoming ever more demanding and vocal in their expectations, struggling councils can look to the private sector as a model of how to keep their customers satisfied. While councils may not be competing for customers in the same way as a business, their reputations are still on the line as dissatisfied locals take their grievances to social media.

A customer-centric model for local government spending should be flexible enough to keep up with changing demands. In a time of increasing diversity, councils need to satisfy a broader range of customers and to anticipate and respond to their concerns.

Invest in technology

With a restricted budget, upgrading old IT systems can easily get pushed down the list of priorities. But each year the existing technology becomes more obsolete, councils and their customers are missing out on the benefits modern systems can deliver.

Technology investments can yield strong returns, as long as you choose wisely. IT architecture needs to be scalable and future-proof to meet the changing needs of a dynamic population, and so you won’t have to make the investments all over again a few years down the line.

Cloud-based services are an attractive option for many councils, as they avoid the up-front costs of buying and maintaining their own servers and they can be upgraded or expanded as needed. Technology companies are eager to work with local governments, meaning there are plenty of competitive options to choose from as councils find the provider that can help them innovate solutions for the unique challenges they’re facing.

Improve collaboration

With ambitious infrastructure projects aiming to connect more communities and blur boundaries, local governments need to think about more than just their own municipalities. The infrastructure built today is the foundation of a more connected future, as second-tier and regional cities are considered prime targets for growth and investment to help ease the strain on major cities.

Regional partnerships between local and state governments can stretch limited budgets further by leveraging costs. Departments working together and sharing their valuable data and experience means time and money can be saved on research, as the same lessons don’t need to be learned twice.

Find out more at NCEC

Keep up with the latest developments in civil construction and infrastructure and hear from key industry speakers by attending the National Construction Equipment Convention (NCEC).

This industry-owned, multi-event platform takes place across three days from 15-17 November 2018 at Sydney Showground, Sydney Olympic Park.

Get all the details here

 

Sources

The Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development. Financial Assistance Grant to Local Government. http://regional.gov.au/local/assistance/index.aspx

The Department of Infrastructure, Regional Development and Cities. Infrastructure Investment Program. http://investment.infrastructure.gov.au/