WIMMERA councils say businesses ratepayers will soon find it easier to deal with them, after securing funding to share and modernize their computer software.
The state government has committed $5 million to Buloke, Hindmarsh, Horsham, Loddon, West Wimmera and Yarriambiack under the Rural Councils Transformation Program.
Horsham Rural City Council was the leading council in developing the program in the Wimmera.
Council chief executive Sunil Bhalla said the $5 million would be used to establish a common information technology platform across the six councils.
"It will be used to implement common systems to allow us to be more flexible across councils. It will also make it easier for the community members and business that have to deal with multiple council areas," he said.
"This will improve customer services and the quality of those services, and will also make it easier for people to do business with the councils."
Related: Wimmera council mergers 25 years on
He the program had been in development for about nine months.
"The government set up a $13 million program last year to help with council sustainability, so the six councils in this region have been working together since then," he said.
"It's about how we can be more efficient in delivering our services. The more we work together, the better the quality of the services will be and the more efficient we can be.
"We hope this will go a long was in addressing the sustainability issues that all rural councils have. This is the start and there will be a move to have more shared services across the region."
He said the councils already had a shared procurement for sealing the region's roads.
Mr Bhalla confirmed that there would be no forced redundancies through the process of implementing the program.
"We struggle to attract professional staff to these areas as it is," he said.
Work on the platform will start during the next two to four weeks.
Hindmarsh Shire Council chief executive Greg Wood said the organisation would save money and time on functions including finance, payroll, customer request and record-keeping systems.
"It means we can deliver modern services to ratepayers over the internet, rather than it being paper-based," he said.
"This is the sort of investment small councils can't afford to do alone, but it will make it easier for us to keep costs down into the future which will have benefits for ratepayers.
"At the moment it is hard to provide a range of services the community needs, particularly with the ageing population and given we are about to undertake expansion of kindergarten care to all three-year olds. It will make back of house more efficient and hopefully our staff will be able to spend more time doing community-focused things."
Mr Wood said the council wanted the roll out to be complete in two years.
Yarriambiack Shire Council chief executive Jessie Holmes said the councils sharing resources would make work quicker and easier.
"At the moment we spend money on consultants in different areas when we need specific things done in areas where we don't have a full-time position to warrant expertise all year," she said.
"At the moment the biggest barrier is that we all do rates online but all our systems are set up differently so this would allow us to have same business processes so if one council's rates officer goes on long service leave, we can tap into someone else's."
While you're with us, you can now receive updates straight to your inbox twice weekly from the Wimmera Mail-Times. To make sure you're up-to-date with all the news from across the Wimmera, sign up below.