Call for more council financial staff
The Tasman District Council has just committed to spending an extra $340,000 per year on staff.
In the first meeting of the newly elected council, corporate services manager Mike Drummond said he needed three extra staff to help take pressure off the finance section.
"The current level of performance, particularly in delivering accurate and timely reporting for both management and council decision-making is not acceptable," he said. "The team is scrambling from one planning and reporting cycle to the next without the opportunity to make improvements.
"The financial challenges that council and its ratepayers are facing have to be resolved. While these roles will add cost in the short term, we must get better, more timely financial information before council. Reducing our long-term borrowing is fundamental to making the council financially sustainable and rates affordable in the long run."
Mr Drummond said these extra staff could be partially funded through savings made from the legal budget and unbudgeted income from an Emissions Trading Scheme arbitrage profit.
He said the staff costs were not a fait accompli, saying there was a possibility of trading off against other resources.
He wanted to bring the services into play before June 30, and the jobs would be advertised very soon. The positions are: commercial manager, systems accountant and revenue accountant.
The council debated the systems accountant position openly, but excluded the public for the remainder of their discussion on the three positions.
In addition to the three jobs, Mr Drummond said he was also likely to need a part-time legal adviser shortly. He said the legal adviser would not replace the role of the external legal team who worked on specialist cases, but he predicted savings of at least $100,000 a year would be made if the adviser was present to support management staff.
The corporate services team had significantly exceeded its legal services budget in recent years and this could have been avoided with an in-house legal representative.
The council added amendments that meant staff should report back on proposed savings and the funding sources Mr Drummond had identified, and approved the proposal.
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