Arnold calls for review of council

LOUISE BERWICK
Last updated 05:00 22/01/2014

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A first-term councillor is calling for the entire city council to be reviewed and processes changed, which could result in job cuts.

Councillor Karen Arnold said she "really wanted a negative rates increase" this year, and to achieve that, wants an independent review into how the council operates.

That review would highlight the council's weaknesses and possible opportunities to save money, she said.

Cr Arnold said the council could be run more cheaply and efficiently.

"I would like that entire structure of the council operations visited. We have been through a global financial crisis and companies have restructured and our city council increases the number of people it's employing and just carries on as business as usual."

She said council often used the phrase "if we cut rates, then we don't deliver something to rate payers", but Cr Arnold did not agree. She believed making cuts to the way the council operated could ensure the services delivered to ratepayers remained the same.

But long-time councillor and finance and policy committee chairman Neil Boniface said while reviews could be useful, cutting costs at the council could result in poorer services being delivered.

Doing a huge restructure in one hit would be costly and stressful. He suggested a staggered review, looking at each department at the council.

Redundancies were not necessarily the answer, and he defended the increase in staff numbers. Government changes had meant more staff needed to be employed to handle the new responsibilities of the council.

Cr Boniface said it was a good question to raise and the councillors should talk about it. "Anyone can come in and say ‘let's cut the rates' and ‘let's cut staff' but are we providing a better service and what ratepayers want?"

Invercargill Mayor Tim Shadbolt said reviews were good from time to time. But he was sceptical that many major changes would be found. "I think it would probably cost a lot of money and not turn much out. I think you will find we run a pretty tight ship."

 

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