Wellington Scoop

Job cuts and controlling council costs

New Zealand First strangely blames the government for job cuts at the Wellington City Council. But the rest of us would see things differently – job cutting is surely one of the ways that the council is trying to control its costs and to keep its rates increases as low as it can.

NZ First claimed on Tuesday that change managers have been working at the council with the aim of “slashing employee numbers including senior managers.”

One day later, the DomPost reported that 35 council staff have been made redundant as drainage maintenance responsibilities are moved to private contractors. Council chief executive Garry Poole confirmed that changes would be necessary “to meet major economic challenges.” He seemed to align himself with NZ First when he blamed the Government’s moves to reform local government, but then he mentioned some of the council’s big spending commitments – earthquake strengthening costs and leaky homes liabilities. He said a review of business units will take two or three months.

On Sunday night, Mayor Wade-Brown had issued a statement describing ways that the council was saving money – she referred to opportunities to trim back asset renewal spending and create more operational efficiencies. Because of this, she said, the next rates increase would be 3.3 per cent instead of the figure of 4.1 per cent which had earlier been signalled.

The words “operational efficiencies” may not have stood out in her lengthy statement at the weekend. But now that we know about job cutting, the words acquire extra significance. And for those who have long wondered why the council hasn’t cut back staff numbers as one of the ways of controlling its annual spending increases and thereby also controlling its annual rates increases, the only question is: why hasn’t it happened earlier?


  1. Trough Gobbler, 15. June 2012, 19:55

    How about we start by moving the chief executive role to a private contractor.

  2. Elaine Hampton, 20. June 2012, 16:14

    Am I a bit slow here ?
    I thought the core responsibilities of council included drainage maintenance. Contracting out usually means no saving and a lesser service.
    Core services are what public bodies such as the Council were set up to provide, its roots are in the Public Health. Its aim is public wellbeing – what we pay rates for.
    Wellington Waterfront owes the council $20 million. 50 CEOs in council and council fronting business and trust. That is where savings should be made. And couldn’t we cut some of the departments and lawyers working for the council to fight their own ratepaying residents.
    Preserve our core services – quality of life in our city depends on it.