BAW Baw’s councillors have voted to reappoint Helen Anstis as the council’s CEO for the next five years.
First published in the 13 February edition of the Warragul & Baw Baw Citizen. Get your copy today from retailers across Baw Baw.
The decision was made in a closed meeting on Wednesday afternoon and made public at the general meeting that evening.
Ms Anstis has been Baw Baw’s CEO for almost five years and mayor Debbie Brown said the council needed to keep her in the position to deal with challenges on the horizon.
“One of the biggest things we’ve got that we’re facing at the moment is the rate capping and the grants freeze from the federal government, and we want to have the best person in the seat for what we’re going to have to be doing in the next 12 or 18 months and into the future,” Cr Brown told the Warragul & Baw Baw Citizen on Wednesday.
“We’ve got a lot of hard decisions and, as far as I’m concerned, you don’t hire monkeys. I want to make sure we’ve got the best, and that is in Helen.
“She’s passionate about the community and she is very good with the skills and knowledge she has.”
Ms Anstis said she was looking forward to the next five years, but noted the same impending challenges Ms Brown did.
“Local government’s a changing environment at the moment,” she told the Warragul & Baw Baw Citizen on Wednesday.
“The introduction of rate capping, the freeze on assistance grants from the federal government, it’s a very dynamic environment that we work in at the moment and so from that point of view I think it’s really important we work together as a team.”
Ms Anstis said the rates freeze could be a big problem for a rural council like Baw Baw, and the state government had already advised councils to not raise rates by much this year before the cap comes into play next year.
“It’s a very big deal for local government, not just the Baw Baw Shire but for all local councils,” she said.
“We have large infrastructure assets that we have to maintain, they cost a lot of money. If rates are capped at CPI, which is usually based around a shopping basket at the supermarket, well, we don’t buy concrete or asphalt from a supermarket. The cost of our inputs… are quite large and our infrastructure is quite old, [and] the only way we can raise revenue in a rural environment is generally though rates.”
“So we have to be a more efficient business. Our organisation is extremely lean, it is extremely efficient, but there’s going to have to be more that we do to be able to maintain our assets as well as deliver services to the community.
“There’s a whole lot of change that’s going to have to be discussed with the community around the services we provide and the level at which we provide those services, because we can’t be all things to all people at the level they expect.”
Other changes from higher levels of government are also expected to pinch.
“The cost of administration under the Local Government Act, all of the things that we have to do, we’ve recently been asked to do performance reporting. That’s a costly exercise,” Mr Anstis said.
“Our organisation is looking at shared service opportunities with other local councils. We have to look at every aspect of our business, and that’s going to be the challenge moving forwards.”
Ms Anstis thanked councillors for her reappointment and said she was looking forward to working with the council team, staff and residents into the future.
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