Fears Auckland Council staff cuts could impact on services

6:50 pm on 9 October 2020

Auckland Council has been warned not to cut the staff needed to plan for the region's growth.

Auckland councillor Daniel Newman

Auckland councillor Daniel Newman says the council needs to think long and hard about cutting jobs in areas such as planning and consents. Photo: LDR

The council employs about 6500 full-time equivalent staff, but announced in its Emergency Budget in July that it would cut 500 or more jobs this year to mitigate a Covid-19-related revenue drop of about $475 million.

The council has not yet released details of how different departments will be affected by the restructure.

Manurewa-Papakura Ward councillor Daniel Newman said the council needed to think long and hard about where it made staff cuts.

"The council needs to retain the planning and consenting staff necessary to ensure we can responsibly respond to the avalanche of plan change requests and consent applications currently being lodged," he said.

With massive development planned south of the city, in areas such as Drury, the expertise of experienced council planning staff would be required, he said.

Planning Committee chairperson Chris Darby shared Newman's concerns about losing planning staff and said the cuts would impact on the council's planning and design teams.

"These cutbacks are going to have serious implications and not just on service levels, but long-range impacts," Darby said.

"We won't have the resources to undertake strategic planning, because we've plundered the budgets to plan Auckland's future."

He said the council would lose institutional knowledge that had been built up over many years and he was concerned about the impact the cutbacks could have on council services.

Darby said while rubbish and recycling would not be affected as it was contracted out, other areas could be hit.

"I struggle to see how these levels of service can be maintained."

Council chief executive Jim Stabback said as well as job cuts, the council was looking at other cost-saving measures.

The council was trying to find about $120 million in savings, as it attempted to deal with the financial impact of Covid-19.

"We're working in consultation with our staff on any proposals as we move through a process of change. This is both a sensitive and confidential employment process and we will provide more detailed information in due course," Stabback said.

"Other work underway across the organisation includes prioritising spending more effectively, protecting jobs by redeploying our workforce to meet changing demand, reducing consultancy fees, voluntary salary reductions, and limiting spend to essential items only."

Despite the savings, the council would maintain services Aucklanders need and value, Stabback said.

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