Council reaps rewards of keeping Lismore beautiful
A HUGE shake-up of Lismore City Council's parks and gardens team has "significantly increased" productivity since July last year.
The team has doubled the amount of gardens it visits per month and has increased mowing by 66%, which equates to 100 hectares of additional mowing per month during peak season.
Complaints have reduced by almost 80%.
The department was renamed Civic Pride last year and schedules were overhauled to ensure major parks, town entrances and neighbourhood reserves were kept neat and tidy.
In the past, inefficient scheduling had left many of Lismore's public spaces looking scruffy and unloved.
Major parks - including Kadina, Wade, Heritage and Nesbitt, as well as neighbourhood parks and reserves - are now mowed more frequently, while roundabouts are receiving extra maintenance.
A dedicated team now oversees sporting fields to ensure they are maintained to a high standard and are ready on time for sporting events.
Civic Pride manager Matt Torr said the new name coupled with an overhaul of entrenched maintenance schedules had brought about positive change, with staff taking pride in keeping Lismore beautiful.
"Sometimes at council there is a 'this is the way it's always been done' attitude, but that's no longer acceptable and we are exploring how to improve efficiency and productivity in every department of the organisation," Mr Torr said.
"During the Imagine Lismore community consultation in 2012 our community told us they wanted to see council use its money wisely, and in the Civic Pride team we are ensuring that ratepayer funds are being spent efficiently.
"As well as achieving huge gains in productivity and improving Lismore's streetscapes, this shake up has improved our team culture out of sight, with staff coming to work passionate and enthused about their jobs."
Mr Torr said there was a ripple effect that occurred when good systems were put in place.
"The more work we do, the less complaints we receive, the more ownership and pride the staff have in their work, and that increases productivity even further," he said.
"This new direction has given the Civic Pride team common goals and much clearer targets.
"The overriding aim is to do the best we can for our community."
The council's executive director of infrastructure services, Gary Murphy, said the overhaul was the beginning of major change within the council.
He said that over the next three years an Internal Productivity Review would expose entrenched inefficiencies and help the council save millions of dollars.
"We need to become financial sustainable. It's not a question of choice; it's something we have to do as part of the Fit for the Future local government reforms," he said.
"The Civic Pride team's complete turnaround shows us it can be done; they are doing an amazing job of leading by example.
"To be honest, the results have completely exceeded our expectations. It makes us all feel hopeful and excited about the future."