Local Government Trends

This about emerging and growing trends in local government, which will give you some ideas about why Councils behave and act for the better or worser for ratepayers and other stakeholders owning properties, who are tenants or non-residents working in our cities.

The Good & the Bad Trends

  1. Performance reporting and accountability still remains outstanding issues in many councils, based on evidence of the Victorian Auditor General Office (VAGO)’s April 2012 audit report on the state of local government’s performance reporting. In 2008, the VAGO’s earlier audit of Performance Reporting in Local Government found that, “for most councils, reporting had limited relevance to ratepayers because it lacked information about outcomes, achievement of objectives and service quality”. The 2012 audit report assessed the effectiveness of existing local government reporting arrangements and the adequacy of associated reform initiatives. It found that “council performance reporting remains inadequate, focused on inputs and operating activites, thereby offering little insight into the impact of services and the achievement of objectives. Some improvements were evident since 2008, but reporting has not sufficiently progressed to satisfy the information needs of residents and ratepayers, or drive continuous improvement within councils. Ongoing performance challenges in the sector indicate that work on a statewide performance reporting framework should continue.
  2. How Councils manipulate community consultation/engagement to be seen as consulting in their decision making or program planning – lessons learnt from the USA:
    • One answer to this problem is promoting the use of evidence based Kepner-Tregoe (KT) decision making (and problem solving), which one Council has or more have been made aware by informed ratepayers but unknowingly ignored or chose to dismiss such best practice.
    • Another tactic is to defuse it smartly – click here to find out how.
  3. Party politics, power plays and groupthink decision making in Councils also expose local communities to consequences (hence creating risks) that affect their liveability and sustainability – it’s a common trend threadline, even up to federal government, where big businesses are getting fedup and starting to think like the rest of the Australian population (can you imagine that!) – click here to understand more.
  4. Local government roles have changed. Historically, they were service providers of road, property and rubbish services. In the 1970s, these roles extended to include community and human services, and funding sources become more diverse to include new “user-pays” transactional fees and penalties, grants and subsidies. Today, other new services like health, library, etc also are included. Recently, they also receive State fund allocations for selected infrastructure development and capital works.  While realising their changing roles and increasing diversity of funding sources, they have not come to grips to managing these change drivers, hence this change management incompetency is also a major factor to many operating and customer relationship issues we face today. These service changes are also questioning whether non rate-payers should also be entitle to vote in local government elections as local government are not just road, property and rubbish service providers any more. Source: Property Votes – OK?