Invercargill City Council plans to increase remuneration budget by $600k

A report suggests the Invercargill City Council's needs to increase its remuneration budget by $600,000.
A report suggests the Invercargill City Council's needs to increase its remuneration budget by $600,000.

The Invercargill City Council plans to bump up its wage budget by $600,000 after coming under “significant pressure”.

On Tuesday councillors will deliberate its 2021-2031 long-term plan following its public consultation process.

Listed in the changes to council’s operating environment since the adoption of the consultation document is the proposed change to the remuneration budget.

Council's strategy and policy manager Rhiannon Suter says in a report to councillors that the organisation has changed to meet council’s expectations and as a result, the budget has come under significant pressure.

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The Invercargill City Council has not yet joined other councils as an accredited Living Wage employer, but it did introduce an “ICC Fair Wage” at $20 per hour last year for its lowest-paid employees.

On April 1 the minimum adult wage increased from $18.90 to $20 which Suter said in turn had driven increases to the ICC's Fair Wage scheme.

“These have been incorporated into the remuneration structure, but discussions around parity for adjacent, lower graded positions is also contributing to an increase in staffing costs.”

Retaining critical staff was also viewed as a key reason in the need to boost the remuneration budget by $600,000.

“There is no doubt that if Council is to achieve its aspirational Roadmap to Renewal it needs to compete with other employers,” Suter says in the report.

“Retaining critical staff will always be more cost-effective than having to recruit and train new employees.”

Market conditions have shifted post-Covid, and the closure of the borders, she adds.

“This coincides with the demographics of older, experienced workers retiring. We have seen this have a very real impact on our ability to deliver capital projects, and to achieve some of council’s aims in other areas (e.g. communications).

“There is no sign of the conditions easing any time soon.”

In 2020 the council spent $23.8 million on salaries and wages, down on the $24.1m spent in 2019.