Up to $75,000 is available from FAST Grants Program to improve the financial sustainability of local governments, particularly in rural and regional Victoria.
FAST Grants Program (Finance and Accounting Support Team)
Stream Two of the FAST Grants Program (Finance and Accounting Support Team) provides grants that allow rural and regional councils to explore opportunities for shared services and collaborative procurement that are more financially sustainable or improve services.
The FAST program was announced in the 2016-17 Victorian Government budget and is delivered in three streams by Local Government Victoria (LGV), part of the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP). Subject to any confidential aspects, participating councils are expected to share insights from their Stream One and/or Stream Two projects, including any improved practices. LGV facilitates this sharing with the broader sector and a mid-program report is available below, including project summaries and insights to date.
Joint proposals from groups of rural and regional councils that meet the funding criteria will be funded up to $75,000 to develop a business case or feasibility study. The group is to match 50 per cent of the total project budget by in-kind services or financial contribution. Projects are expected to be completed within a 12 month period.
Funding is awarded through a competitive process. This stream doesn’t fund implementation of proposals: the grants are to develop a business case or feasibility study. The study or business case should include proposed key performance measures formalise the agreement of participating councils, and enable shared learnings.
Funding will support business cases or feasibility studies expected to lead to councils investing in project implementation themselves, without additional government support. Proposed business cases or feasibility studies should be fully costed, and include the expected benefits and measurement criteria to support collaboration.
Accounts Payable Model – Wangaratta Rural City Council (lead council)
Wangaratta leads the Campaspe, Mitchell and Wodonga councils in a project which received a $37,500 FAST grant to investigate the feasibility of the Accounts Payable function being delivered via a shared services platform. By assessing Accounts Payable in the first instance the participating councils are of the view that it will clear the way for other technology based activities to be delivered in the same way.
Developing Shared Services in Wimmera Councils – Horsham Rural City Council (lead council)
Horsham Rural City, Hindmarsh Shire, Northern Grampians Shire, West Wimmera Shire and Yarriambiack Shire have received a $75,000 FAST grant to investigate more ways to work together to create efficiencies across council borders. The five Wimmera Councils will undertake a business case development with the key objective to improve sustainability through shared services, collaborative procurement and capacity building. The study will also examine operating models that improve staff retention and career paths in areas of technical expertise.
Shared Finance Solutions – Technology and Workforce – Alpine Shire Council (lead council)
Alpine and Towong Shires have been allocated $75,000 to assess the feasibility of a cloud based finance and accounting platform across the two councils. The project will develop a comprehensive business case identifying the costs, opportunities and benefits to both Shires through a shared finance platform.
Shared Service Delivery of Core Enterprise Resource Planning Systems – Corangamite Shire Council (lead council)
Corangamite Shire, Moyne Shire and the City of Warrnambool have received a $75,000 FAST grant to investigate the efficiencies and benefits available from a common information technology platform serving these councils. The three councils will use the funds to develop a feasibility study to integrate core Information Technology and Communication (ICT) functions into a shared service model with the long term objective of delivering corporate services more efficiently through innovative technology.
Statutory Shared Services Business Model – Indigo Shire Council (lead council)
Indigo Shire, Alpine Shire, Benalla Rural City, Mansfield Shire, Moira Shire, Towong Shire, Wangaratta Rural City and Wodonga Rural City have received a $56,250 FAST grant to develop a business case for a shared service delivery model that reduces the cost and improves the service quality of specific statutory functions for each of the eight local governments. This will in turn enhance employment and career opportunities across the region. Specifically, the business case will evaluate the benefits across environmental health services, a regional planning service and building services process alignment and workforce resilience.
Technology for the Future – Towong Shire Council (lead council)
A FAST grant of $42,000 has been allocated to the Towong and Indigo Shire Councils to investigate best practice technology in rates and property accounting systems. These councils have successfully operated under a shared services arrangement but now seek further enhancements in service delivery through improved technology. The funding will deliver a fully costed business case which could be applied to other councils in the future.
Workforce Planning Framework – Wangaratta Rural City Council (lead council)
Wangaratta heads a group of six councils, Alpine, Indigo, Loddon, Mansfield and Murrindindi Shires, which received $75,000 to develop a workplace planning framework. This project will provide an overarching framework that can be implemented across each of these councils and ultimately across the Victorian local government sector.
Shared Platform for Shared Services and Resources – Buloke Shire Council (lead council)
Buloke Shire Council and Loddon Shire Council have commenced procurement of a shared corporate system. The system will cover core services of both councils, and will need to be supported by consistent functionality, service area structure, resourcing and processing requirements. Both councils are undertaking business process mapping of financial management as a joint exercise in order to support potential future shared services and resources in this area.
Business case for development of a new Visitor Servicing Model – Corangamite Shire Council
The six councils of the Great Ocean Road region (Corangamite Shire Council, Colac Otway Shire Council, Surf Coast Shire Council, Warrnambool City Council, Moyne Shire Council, Glenelg Shire Council) are assessing the feasibility of a regional model for visitor servicing. The business case will explore governance options, operational models and strategic planning, including identification of location, format, function and operation of visitor centres and alternate delivery mechanisms. The six councils within the GOR region collectively provide nine accredited and four non-accredited visitor information centres supported by a digital platform providing ten websites, print and marketing campaigns.
Improving Aboriginal business procurement in local government – Bendigo City Council
In partnership with Mount Alexander Shire Council and Loddon Shire Council, the group is investigating ways to improve Aboriginal business procurement in local government and to better understand barriers facing local Aboriginal businesses, as well as the economic benefits for the councils and community.
Applications close 7 August 2019.