George Town mayor defends proposed service cuts

George Town and West Tamar Mayors Bridget Archer and Christina Holmdahl.
George Town and West Tamar Mayors Bridget Archer and Christina Holmdahl.

George Town Council employees and the community have no “reason for alarm” as a review into services and jobs is undertaken, mayor Bridget Archer declared.

With an underlying deficit of $1.1 million for the 2017-2018 financial year, this week councillors endorsed a plan to review the organisation, which could result in job losses at the council and fewer services provided.

The effort comes ahead of a report on the viability of an amalgamation with West Tamar Council, due to be released next month.

Cr Archer said the potential cost-cutting endeavour would ensure the council’s future sustainability, and keep the decision of amalgamation with the community.

 “If George Town Council doesn't get its own house in order and create a more sustainable footing then potentially, amalgamation becomes the only alternative,” she said.

“Council needs to focus on its own activities.

“A merger proposition then becomes a matter of choice and whether it is in the best interests of your community.”

Cr Archer said the review of the council’s expenditure was not caused by the looming amalgamation report.

West Tamar Council mayor Christina Holmdahl anticipated the rates increase and cost cutting would make George Town Council’s budget sheet more lucrative. 

But she expected it would have “very little bearing with the merger feasibility study that’s happening at the moment”.

“We’re looking at a long-term picture,” she said. 

Cr Archer said the council had “some of the highest wages in the sector, in the state” – which compared with depreciating assets, had created “the perfect storm”.

“They need some firm action and some leadership to address them,” she said.