Let’s combine Bass Coast and South Gippsland shires.
At present, the populations for both shires is very similar.
Current estimates of the populations and the expected numbers in 2031 are as follows: Bass Coast in 2014, 31,660, and in 2031, 45,257; South Gippsland in 2014, 28,332, and in 2031, 36,511.
As can be seen, the projected growth in Bass Coast is double that of South Gippsland.
This will have a marked impact on the revenue base, the number of rate assessments and hence the average rate assessment over the coming years. At present, the assessment numbers are: Bass Coast – 28,986; South Gippsland – 19,050.
Hence, it can be seen that Bass Coast already has 50 per cent more assessments contributing to the governance of the community.
That explains why the average assessment in Bass Coast is $1478 compared to $1752 for South Gippsland Shire.
We note there are some differences in the make-up and cultural identity of the two municipalities however, there is much in common.
At present, the biggest employer in Bass Coast is construction with Agriculture-Forestry-Fishing (5.2 per cent) at second whilst in South Gippsland it is the Agriculture-Forestry-Fishing sector which is the dominant sector at around 10.7 per cent.
However, South Gippsland is home to some 3786 local business operations compared to just 2779 in Bass Coast so perhaps South Gippsland is providing an employment location for a number of people in Bass Coast. This is perhaps reflected in people wanting to live in a coastal location.
At present there is some tension in South Gippsland Shire Council with councillors being perhaps focused more on their ridings and not so much for the greater community.
There is always a feeling from smaller centres that Leongatha is getting all the attention.
This situation is not so evident in Bass Coast.
Under a combined municipality there would be less identification with a particular township so perhaps governance may be better.
If the shires were to amalgamate it would be relatively easy to arrive at savings of perhaps $5 million from the combined wage bill.
That is a saving on average of $100 per rate on existing assessment numbers.
At present there is a total revenue pool of well over $110 million over the two shires and yet the expenditure on capital works is just $29 million.
Half the expenditure is going on wages and salaries.
If we took the $5 million saved in wages and put that into capital works, it would make a big difference in the community.
Many might argue a combined shire would lead to a lack of service – this is not necessarily the case with modern technology.
Where once you needed to get to a central office for access to all the data and info, technology has removed that constraint.
With all of the shire info mounted in ‘the cloud’, any office anywhere can access the same data.
Hence a service centre at Foster, Leongatha, Cowes or Wonthaggi could all access the same info as needed.
I urge all locals to consider this and ask our paid servants to prepare an analysis of the combined shire for us to review and perhaps take to a vote.
Lindsay Love, Leongatha.