Discussing levels of service with the community
Talking to the community about acceptable levels of service is one of the most important conversations the council will have. There are many approaches available to councils when having this conversation. Some suggested steps that the council might wish to consider include explaining:
- what services and facilities the council provides
- the current condition of these services and facilities
- the cost associated to bring these to a higher standard and to maintain them into the future
- any challenges facing the council in providing these services
- what options are available to the council to face these challenges.
The council may wish to ask the community to rank services and facilities in order of priority. Some councils have achieved this via a broad community survey in order to capture a good-cross section of community members. The council and community can then discuss any gaps between the importance of the service/facility and the community’s expectations of that service/facility and its satisfaction with it.
When looking at how the gaps can be reduced, the council might consider forming a community focus group to look at the issues and options in detail. The group will need to consider things like the possibility of enhancing, reducing, replacing or maintaining the council’s asset portfolio and funding sources. This discussion will need to be held within the context of the Community Strategic Plan and Delivery Program, and the current aspirations or goals the community has already identified.