45 jobs face axe at Tauranga City Council

By Joseph Aldridge -
Interim chief executive Leigh Auton. Photo / Mark McKeown
Interim chief executive Leigh Auton. Photo / Mark McKeown

Tauranga City Council has started a major restructure that could see 45 jobs lost and save the organisation $2.7 million.

Announced to staff yesterday by interim chief executive Leigh Auton, the organisation review proposes to cut 36 full-time equivalent (FTE) positions, disestablish a further 19 FTE positions which are currently vacant and add 9.5 new FTE positions - resulting in a net loss of 45.5 full-time positions.

A further 32.3 FTE positions were expected to be disestablished when the STAR document scanning project finishes in early 2014.

Mr Auton said the review was the council's response to the "changing economic, social, political, cultural and environmental climate".

After several months as interim chief executive, Mr Auton said he was confident in saying the organisation was not broken.

"In fact, it's quite the opposite. Tauranga City Council is populated by professional, committed and passionate people who work hard and want to do the best for the community they live in and really do care about.

"However, there is always room for reflection, modification and, in fact, positive transformation.

"We need this organisation to be in as strong a position as possible strategically and operationally to move forward and face the challenges ahead.

"We want TCC to be as customer focused and efficient as it can be. And the ratepayers and residents need to feel that they are getting maximum value for money from the organisation that represents their desires for the city."

Mr Auton acknowledged the changes proposed in the review would likely cause "discomfort and distress" to those involved. "This is unfortunate, but necessary if we are to truly tackle the issues that need to be faced.

"Every effort is being made to make this transition as seamless as possible but I acknowledge that a number of people will be affected by this process."

Largely because of an increase of 124 FTE positions, the council's salary budget has almost doubled over the past seven years, from $19.5 million in 2004-05 to $37.5 million in 2011-12.

The staff reductions proposed in the review would save the council $2.7 million.

Mayor Stuart Crosby said councillors were 100 per cent behind the reorganisation to meet the needs of the future but relied on the skills of the chief executive to carry out the restructure in the best way.

"Re-organisation and down-sizing are challenging areas for everybody involved because we're dealing with people but we are responsible to our community and our ratepayers and we're pretty focused about driving more efficiencies into the organisation."

Mr Crosby emphasised staff would be consulted on the proposals listed in the review.

"It's definitely not a slash and burn. What it is is a re-setting of the organisation for the new environment."

Job cuts were proposed "across the board" but particularly so in areas hard hit by the economic downturn, such as planning and building, he said.

"There hasn't been a major review of our organisation for nearly a decade. There has been a number of mini ones but there hasn't been a substantial one so over the last decade the organisation grew, particularly in management areas."

Staff are to be consulted over the next two weeks and the final plan is expected to be announced on December 13.

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