Councils consider options

THE region’s three local municipalities are each in talks following the release of a report which if implemented would see the shake-up of their council operations.

Residents of the Derwent Valley, Central Highlands and Brighton municipalities, as well as the rest of the state’s 29 councils should know within six months just what local council representation will look like. The Local Government Board recently released an Options Paper on the future of local government in Tasmania. The Report puts forward three “pathways” for structural reform of local government.

These are a system of mandatory resource sharing arrangements between councils, moving to a system of fewer, much larger councils or a hybrid approach that combines both of these elements.

Derwent Valley Mayor Michelle Dracoulis said as yet the council did not have a formal position on local government reform. However, a report would be considered by the council later this month.

“We have, however, had preliminary discussions with the Local Government Minister during his meeting with Derwent Valley Council on January 11,’’ Mrs Dracoulis said. “ The Minister has committed to meeting with all local governments in the coming months and it was great to have the opportunity to discuss a range of local issues with him during his time with our new council. “Council will be considering a report at its January meeting on the future models put forward in the future of local government review options paper released in December 2022.’’

Brighton Mayor Leigh Gray said his council would be considering the report at a workshop held this week.

“Change is inevitable and although our current position with regard to boundaries, for our municipality, is the status quo we are certainly willing to openly discuss all options during and after the final recommendations are delivered,’’ Mr Gray said.

“We have been at the forefront of shared services for a long-time and see it as a sensible solution for some councils. “We look forward to direction from the Local Government Board on clarifying what services they believe are best placed with State Government and those best delivered locally, but we highlight that devolving even more traditional state functions to local government needs to come with appropriate funding models.

“I think most feel statutory planning should remain with Local Government, but we are always open to improvements and changes to how this is best achieved.

“If there is a reduced number of councils in the state, then we will be at the negotiating table looking for a good deal for the people we represent – The residents and ratepayers of Brighton.

“We all, under the Act, represent our municipality and must act in the best interest of our community but there is a time when that best interest may be subject to an outside direction that brings change and in that case we push for the best deal for our people.’’

Central Highlands Mayor Lou Triffitt confirmed her council would continue to hold discussions in regard to reform.