Council changes could save $3.2m

AN INDEPENDENT review has found savings of up to $3.2million a year could ultimately be made by Coffs Harbour City Council following a path of cost efficiency improvements and changes in management practices.

The review has been in the form of the Transformation to Sustainability - or T2S - project.

It began earlier this year when consultants LKS Quaero were requested by the council to review the organisation and produce three documents - an Organisation Diagnostic, a Business Case and Indicative Program Plan.

Essentially the consultants looked at the way the council delivered services to the community and how savings could be made.

Council general manager Steve McGrath said the study concluded it would be possible for savings of up to $3.2million to be made once identified changes occured.

"For a number of years the council has been taking a hard look at the way we do things to try and find cost savings - and we have made some significant changes," Mr McGrath said.

"Our view is that we couldn't ask the community to contribute more without first looking at ourselves to make sure we were operating as cost-effectively as we can. That's what we've been doing for several years now but we felt there was more we can do.

"So the brief that LKS Quaero was given was to focus on where we still need to improve, not what we're already doing well, and that's an important point.

"The Organisation Diagnostic is not a comfortable read and makes clear that the whole organisation faces a lot of challenges and changes.

"The really positive result was that if we do it right and invest in the change, we can make significant savings."

Mr McGrath said the review made 32 recommendations on where the council could make improvements in efficiencies, the way it worked and its internal culture.

"Largely there were no surprises," he said.

"Most of the recommendations were to do with issues that we were already aware of and are working on or had already identified.

"The results also have to be set beside the community's clear direction that it wants us to continue to deliver the same level of services in the future.

"So the fundamental take-out is that we, as an organisation, need to significantly change the way we do things so that we can become a sustainable council that delivers the services the community expects, within the resources we have.

"We have to change and we will be changing - and it's going to be challenging - but the LKS Quaero work also found that council staff want to see change as much as anyone and that's a very encouraging start."

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