Bernard Orsman

Bernard Orsman is Super City reporter for the NZ Herald.

City wages bill balloons

Mayor blamed for 'worrying' figures.

The transition agency that set up the Super City predicted the council wages bill would fall. Photo / Richard Robinson
The transition agency that set up the Super City predicted the council wages bill would fall. Photo / Richard Robinson

Staff numbers have risen by 840 in the past year and wages have gone from a forecast $513 million to $670 million in the first two years of the Super City.

This has prompted councillor Cameron Brewer to blame Mayor Len Brown for the "worrying" figures and brought murmuring in senior levels that chief executive Doug McKay is not doing enough to control staff numbers and costs.

"The mayor likes to give the impression that he's reduced staff numbers, but the reality is we're seeing the numbers creep up," Mr Brewer said.

The Super City began in November 2010 with 7478 staff and 729 vacancies - an allowance of 8207 staff. This was about 1200 fewer staff from the 9430 of the former eight councils.

By the end of June last year, staff numbers at the Auckland Council and seven council bodies was 7200. A year later the figure was 8040.

Mr McKay could not be reached for comment, but a council spokesman said the latest rise in staff numbers reflected what had been allowed in 2010 for the Super City to deliver its workload.

Last night, Mr Brown defended the number of staff, saying the Super City was doing much more with less.

"Staff numbers are down substantially in comparison with the old councils, average rates increases are falling every year and we are on course to reduce costs by $1.7 billion in the first 10 years of the new Auckland," Mr Brown said.

The transition agency that set up the Super City predicted the council wages bill would fall from $604 million to $513 million as a result of reducing staff numbers. Instead, the wages bill was $670 million in the last financial year - representing nearly half the revenue from rates.

Mr Brewer said Mr McKay was not at fault for the rising staff numbers, saying the chief executive would like to see a leaner staff but had not been put under any pressure by Mr Brown to achieve it.

Staff numbers

9430 pre-Super City
7478 November 2010 (start of Super City)
7200 June 2011
8040 June 2012

- NZ Herald

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