Council job cut savings a modest start

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So Tauranga City Council has begun a "major" restructure and 45 jobs could be lost.

Such a move will reportedly save the city $2.7 million and will look as if it is doing something to turn SS Taurangatanic away from the financial iceberg.

But is it really doing all that much?

Let's face it, the city has taken on 50 new people in the past year, taking the total number of staff to 553.

Has anyone out there in the real world noticed any improvements in service?

Reading online comments from bedlam101 does not fill me with much confidence.

Bedlam101 says: "I know first hand where these redundancies will be and believe me, it will be a great loss.

"Yes, there are a huge amount of overpaid staff who don't deserve their salaries, but cutting the staff that the general public deal with everyday is going to do more harm than good.

"There will be outsourcing of many roles and this will cost you the public more in the grand scheme of things."

Now, while having a leaner city operation is necessary, there are several questions the powers-that-be need to answer.

Firstly, do the staffing levels include workers at the council's arms-length bodies such as Tauranga City Aquatics, City Care and Tauranga City Venues? Or are they just a convenient way to hide the true payroll of TCC?

Secondly, do we citizens of this city have a guarantee that the disappearing jobs are not from frontline operations, but instead from the seemingly incalculable number of middle managers and clipboard holders that have magically appeared.

Tales I have heard suggest there is truth in the quip that council's job is to create more council jobs.

And, we would like a guarantee that there will be no consultants taken on by council to cover the workers being dismissed.

In fact, some transparency on council's use of consultants would be a welcome thing.

After all they are very costly, no matter the spin used by those wanting to employ them.

With an annual staff wage bill of at least $37 million, Tauranga City Council must act openly and decisively on making itself considerably less expensive while maintaining core services.

And one would suggest a saving of $2.7 million - or only about 8 per cent - is a start, but nothing more.


***

It never ceases to amaze me how in this topsy-turvy modern world people just have no idea how ridiculous some of the things they say are.

Take one Tim Rose, a New Zealand student-loan borrower now living in Australia with his $50,000 of debt to Kiwi taxpayers.

Tim is one of 91,000 student-loan debtors living overseas who owe about $2.5 billion, with total student loan debt more than $12 billion.

Now you may have sympathy for Tim - maybe see him as a poor student, struggling to get ahead in a foreign land - until you discover his debt was originally $16,000 but that has ballooned over the past 20 years.

That's right, 20 years and his reason is he has never earned enough to pay it back.

Quite rightly the NZ Internal Revenue Department is calling in debt collectors to claw back some of the moneys owed.

The reason I am referring to Tim is he was featured in a report saying that he fears Australian Hells Angels getting into debt collection because that business is unlicensed in the state of Victoria.

Tim says he is worried such "unscrupulous" types will come after him.

My question to Tim is - does he regard a biker gang member doing a legitimate job more unscrupulous than someone who runs away from his debts and doesn't pay them back?

Just asking.


***

Warning, the following may change your view of Russian baboushkas - grandmothers.

The other day 56-year-old Aishat Maksudova was tending her animals near the village of Novo Biryuzyak when a hungry wolf popped over to have dinner.

There was no Peter around and so the gran defended one of her calves by dragging it out of the beast's jaws.

 


 


That wasn't a good move as the vulpine brute then went for her.

"The wolf clawed into my leg and when I raised my arm up the wolf was just holding my hand; trying to claw my hand."

Now this is the bit I like - the game granny said she wanted to "choke the wolf to death", but was forced to reach for her axe when she couldn't get its jaws open.

"I took the axe and hit him on the head."

Say no more.

richard@richardmoore.com

- Bay of Plenty Times

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