Residents expect more services, survey shows

Published: 11 September 2023

Mathew Hatcher says Council must find more efficiencies if it wants to meet community expectations. The Eurobodalla Mayor was responding to a recent survey that found residents lacked appetite for any service reductions.

“In fact, the community wants more,” Mayor Hatcher said.

“When asked about Council’s investment across a broad range of functions, 80 percent of respondents wanted services to either continue or improve. This at a time when Council has a capped income, rising costs and expects an $8.8 million deficit."

Council’s general manager Warwick Winn said many results from the periodic Micromex community satisfaction survey mirrored previous years, confirming residents appreciated Eurobodalla’s natural environment, relaxed lifestyle and friendly communities.

“Not unsurprisingly, customer service and community consultation had the biggest influence of satisfaction across all areas of Council’s service delivery. The survey also highlighted some real gaps between community priorities and their satisfaction with our service, including public toilets, road maintenance, Council finances, and development approvals,” Mr Winn said.

For example, of the 67 council-maintained public toilets, 86 percent of respondents said they were a priority but only 61 percent regarded them as satisfactory. Mr Winn said Council had already begun work in anticipation of this result, presenting Councillors with a public toilet strategy in June.

“We’ve already scored them all from 1 to 5, finding over 60 percent only rate as ‘4-fair’ or ‘5-poor’. We’ll begin by upgrading all of them to a ‘3-good’ or better, and go from there,” he said.

Mr Winn stressed Council had taken great strides in communicating the organisation’s financial position to the community: In the first half of 2023, Council reprioritised its work plan and also revised grant funding to focus on money supporting programmed work and services. So far, this has reduced the organisation’s operating deficit from $13.6 million down to $11 million.

“Now a complete review of Council’s services and budgets is underway; every single anticipated expense will need to be reviewed and justified as we work to find long-term financial stability,” Mr Winn said.

“Can we continue to offer a particular service but less of it? Are we replicating services offered by other organisations? We must be more strategic in our delivery if we hope to meet our community’s ever-increasing expectations.”

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