Witt overspend put at $103,000

TARYN UTIGER
Last updated 05:00 25/07/2013

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Witt has blown its budget by more than $100,000 in part as a result of high-profile managers leaving the polytechnic.

Legal fees surrounding the exit of former chief executive Richard Handley and human resources manager Lisa Bushell have contributed to the overspend.

At the Witt council meeting yesterday it was revealed the budget blowout was due to "legal and consultancy costs".

Council chairwoman Mary Bourke would not go into great detail about the professional costs budget but did say portions of the money had been spent on insurance, audit fees and evaluations.

Money was also spent on legal advice for the council, she said.

"Fees in relation to the people who have moved on were an investment to ensure we were doing the right thing.

"Some of those costs are one-off, non-recurring costs that came about as a result of the changes including the advice we sought over the two high-profile exits," she said.

Mr Handley left the campus in April this year after the polytechnic's council turned down his request to have his contact renewed for two years.

Former human resources manager Ms Bushell also left in April claiming she had concerns over the way staff had been treated by the council.

In the year-to-date profit and loss report, the professional costs budget is $83,000.

The same report says $288,000 was spent from this budget in the first six months of this year.

When the Taranaki Daily News questioned the $206,000 blow-out, Ms Bourke said the figure was incorrect by about $103,000.

"What happened is that some of the stuff has been put in there out of phase, into consolidated budget.

"There is an overspend however, and it's actually to the tune of $103,000," she said.

Witt accountant Peter Rothwell says the overspend will not blow the yearly budget.

"We are actually in line with our overall year-to-date budget expectations.

"The professional costs budget will be over year-to-date but that is a mixture of timing and a mixture of permanent cost," he said.

Ms Bourke would not comment on the potential exit packages of Mr Handley and Ms Bushell.

Meanwhile, the Witt council yesterday agreed to a 4 per cent increase in student fees for 2014.

The increase is the maximum allowed by the Government.

The proposed fee increase over all programmes will generate about $140,000 in extra revenue for the 2014 year.

The increase equates to up to an extra $276 per student, per fulltime programme.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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