by Chris Lees
ELECTRICITY costs and training are two of the Gladstone Regional Council's new chief executive officer's focuses.
Roslyn Baker began in the position this week.
Ms Baker said the council played an important role as a long-term and stable employer in the region.
She said it was important young people were given training opportunities.
"Often at times during downturns you see training stop," she said.
"One of my objectives for the council is how do we make sure that we continue to invest in skills for young people in the region?
"So that ultimately when we do get these opportunities in terms of economic development, we have the skills ready to go."
Ms Baker said continuing to invest in training was important although times were tougher than previously.
Costs and rates are often at the top of the community's mind and Ms Baker said it fell to her to make sure the council had responsible spending.
"I take very seriously my role that our ratepayers are getting an efficient service," she said.
"Yes, it will be a difficult balance. I've been given very clear instructions that we want to make sure that we utilise council's assets to generate other revenue not just from ratepayers.
"There's two sides to it, there's the cost side and the revenue side, so I think we'll have to work on both sides to get the balance right."
The new CEO said the council would not go and compete with businesses but if there was an opportunity being missed they could fill the breach.
Ms Baker said technology was something that could reduce costs and increase efficiency.
"I've turned my mind recently to council's street light bill," she said. Ms Baker said it cost more than $1million a year to run streetlights in the region.
"I have some perspectives nationally and also as a state about what can be done but I'm thinking a little bit more micro at the moment.
"I think there's great opportunities for us to make we sure that we're using all the technology we can to be as self-sufficient as we can.
"That might include how looking at things like batteries, how we use storage and solar."
Ms Baker said there were a lot of council assets in the region, so the question was how to put downward pressure on those assets and the council's costs.
Perhaps the focus on power savings costs should not come as a surprise.
Mr Baker was chief operating officer at Energy Queensland Limited in Townsville and was acting chief executive with Ergon Energy.
Ms Baker said there were so many things Gladstone and the council could be involved in.
"There's so much potential in the whole bio-strategy that I do believe there's opportunities for us to look at those new industries," she said.
"Obviously there's a lot of agriculture around Gladstone and I know that the ports are looking at how they send that through.
"I know that all of our economies in Queensland ... are going through that transition but what we do have is skilled labour."
Ms Baker said the thing that struck her the most about Gladstone was the beautiful scenery around the place and the potential for more tourism ideas.
"I think having the industry here does give a lot of opportunity to the town," she said.
"Also my impression is that it's a very liveable city."