Murray Bridge Council’s primary driving force is always a desire to help those in its community. "We are united," CEO Michael Sedgman explains.
"A successful local government authority is predicated on a shared vision of the community. It’s about the community, their elected representatives and the administration, and where their aspirations intersect. That’s the sweet spot that reflects an effective and efficient local government authority."
Indeed, the four pillars that form the values and thus, reflect the internal culture at Murray Bridge Council, are integrity, accountability, community focus and transparency, which is evident across the entire organization.
Having been with Murray Bridge Council as the CEO for over seven years, and serving three elected councils, Sedgman has seen enormous growth and numerous exciting projects devised.
A successful local government authority is predicated on a shared vision of the community.
When he first stepped into the role, he identified several existing issues that would need to be resolved, and set to work.
"It’s probably fair to say that, some of what I regard as the foundational principles around strategy, financial management, organizational culture and risk management weren’t properly in place. And I made a commitment as part of my recruitment process to set about addressing the gaps in those foundational frameworks," he says.
"That was a focus for the first couple of years. And having put those foundational frameworks in place, it was then a matter of moving from planning to delivery. I like to describe that as my role in delivering our vision of thriving communities."
The master plan
Another essential stage of his revitalization mission was finalizing a long-term community plan, which involved speaking to members of the community and learning about their aspirations and priorities.
"This was so that we could reflect that in the strategic plan that flowed from that process," he says.
One important priority was taking steps to connect the town to a significant regional asset at the major river front reserve, Stuart Reserve.
We’ve had very strong positive feedback from our community, which is very satisfying.
"The works were set to cost an estimated A$34 million [US$22.4 million], so we set about a work package approach of accessing what supporting funding we could get from state and federal governments to enable us to progress the implementation of that master plan over time," Sedgman explains.
"And so, work packages relevant to that master plan implementation have formed an integral part of our budgets over the last five years."
In addition, the council has undertaken an extensive town beautification program, which has seen signage upgraded, dusty wastelands transformed into green spaces, shared pathways for pedestrians and cyclists, and even a new recycled water pipeline to ensure the precious resource of the Murray River isn’t overused.
"We’ve had very strong positive feedback from our community, which is very satisfying," he says with a smile.
When it comes to secondary parties involved in supporting Murray Bridge Council, Sedgman explains that the number is in the hundreds.
"In the last three years, we’ve been through a full review of our supplier arrangements. We’ve been setting up panel contracts, to make us more nimble in terms of our tendering and procurement processes," he says.
"Suppliers are an important part of success, but I think even more important is the stakeholders – those who provide inward investment for the council area.
"They’re particularly important, because they are the key to economic growth that provides for a growing workforce, a growing population and a growing regional economy. So we are particularly proud of the relationships that we have with the key stakeholders in our council area."
With what Sedgman describes as a modest workforce of just over 200 employees, it’s vital for the organization to work efficiently, with a streamlined and strategic approach and the ability to outsource when necessary.
No CEO delivers for his community without a great team behind him.
"We basically focus our internal resources primarily on maintenance. So, when we commit to significant enhancement in capital programs, we need to go to market, particularly around things like our road construction programs," he explains.
"We deliver those through strategic supplier partnerships, and there’d be 10 or a dozen of those key suppliers that we’ve worked with through existing contracts over a number of years."
Ultimately, Sedgman emphasizes that it’s the employees that not only make Murray Bridge Council such a strong organization, but are also a joy to work alongside every day.
"No CEO delivers for his community without a great team behind him," Sedgman concludes. "And I’m very privileged to have a committed and collaborative team, who are all focused on delivering for the community of the Rural City of Murray Bridge."