George Town Council overhaul could see jobs lost and services cut

Jobs losses and service cuts could be on the cards with a major overhaul planned for George Town Council.

In the council’s annual plan, which was endorsed on Wednesday night, acting general manager Raoul Harper said changes needed to be made.

“Council has committed to a full organisational and service delivery review early in the reporting period which will go some way to addressing the operational expenditure issues that are clearly evident,” Mr Harper said.

“Put simply council needs to cut its cloth to fit to avoid unnecessary rate increases.

“In order to successfully achieve this goal the community should be aware that service standards and or staffing levels will need to be revised and new business practices implemented to drive the required level of efficiencies.”

Councillors faced a heated public question time at Wednesday’s special meeting in which ratepayers asked “how did we get here?”

The budget, with an underlying deficit of $1,122,500, was approved for the 2017-18 financial year.

“It has happened over time, some of it relates to the depreciation burden, some of it relates to EBAs that have shown increases in wages over time, those are some of the explanations,” mayor Bridget Archer said.

“Some of the explanation is looking at the services that we offer, the way we provide to the community and the expectations of the community. All of those things have to factor into winding it back.”

The council was also asked why rates and the deficit were increasing, when many of the items from the 2016-17 capital works program were yet to be completed despite the fact that they were in the previous year’s budget.

Mr Harper said a number of new works were required due to depreciation of assets and a grant from the federal government for road improvements in the municipality.

In the annual report he said improvements to waste management services would be a key deliverable with the completion of the new waste transfer station. 

Councillor John Glisson raised the issue of why the budget was being voted on if the council would need to change it at least three times.

He said the council was already aware that another $240,000 was needed for the waste transfer station and that more changes would be made after the operation review.

Cr Glisson also questioned why the council had budgeted $30,000 towards new runway lights at the airport, which only operates in daylight.

One resident also asked why rates were being increased if levels of service were being decreased.