Auckland councillors will vote tomorrow on a plan to privatise a business unit that maintains many of the city's parks, but says the jobs of 320 staff will be guaranteed.
The Herald understands left-wing councillors and local board members are struggling with a plan by officials to sell Aims (Amenities and Infrastructure Management Services), previously known as City Park Services.
Aims has staff across the city, including on Waiheke and Great Barrier islands, who look after parks, sports fields, streetscapes, community facilities, Chamberlain Golf Course, Auckland Domain and the airport. Staff also pick up rubbish in the central city and do work for schools, universities and developers.
Many of the staff are low-paid workers who mow lawns, pick up litter, empty rubbish bins and clean toilets.
It is understood the financial performance of Aims is behind the privatisation proposal from officers, who first raised the issue with elected members a few months ago.
There is also believed to have been pushback to the proposal, particularly from local boards who hold Aims in high regard.
Aims does work in the Albert-Eden, Whau, Puketapapa, Waiheke and Great Barrier Local Board areas. Two board chairs said they could not comment at this stage.
Aims is a separate entity to the council's parks, sports and recreation department.
The proposed sell-off is set to go through a two-step confidential process tomorrow. The matter will be considered by the governing body, followed by an extraordinary meeting of the finance committee.
In an open item on the governing body agenda, officers say the "confidential" matter is part of a review of council services, "Shaping our Future" to "best set the organisation up for success in the future".
"Services can be optimised in different ways. This includes providing more or less of a service, delivering it differently or not providing that service anymore," said a report signed by chief executive Jim Stabback.
A council spokeswoman said although the paper is confidential, and no decisions have been made, the council would have to confirm, as a minimum, that any buyer would offer employment to all workers on the same employment conditions they are on.
A mayoral spokesman said Phil Goff will be discussing the issue with councillors tomorrow and does not intend to comment until he has had the opportunity to discuss the issue and the options they have before them.
A spokesperson for the PSA, the union representing park staff, said "changes are potentially on the cards but we don't know what the decision will be until Friday".
Over the years, council officers and councillors have done a number of reviews to find efficiencies and savings. In 2017, the council sought to make "significant savings" from libraries as part of an organisation-wide efficiency drive, called Fit for the Future, which resulted in dozens of job losses.