Council’s ‘ambitious’ overhaul not finished yet
Belts need to be tightened even further at Auckland City Council to curb rates rises in coming years, a new report says.
The $20,000 report on the council’s organisational culture says current efforts to slash $270 million from the budget is not a longterm solution.
Politicians need to set fewer priorities, rather than spreading money across a “cluttered programme of projects”.
The report also says ongoing efforts to improve staff culture still have some way to go.
Mayor John Banks agrees the council needs to substantially lift its game.
“Much work has been done but more progress is needed.”
He says measures to improve customer service, including new software designed to streamline customer queries, are already under way.
But he agrees with the report’s assessment that the council is doing too much on too many fronts.
“We have bitten off more than we can chew, and consequently we are dialling back on much of our activities,” Mr Banks says.
“We’re staying very focused on core business.”
City Vision-Labour leader Richard Northey says he agrees the council should regularly prioritise activities.
But he objects to the report’s implication that staff could make mid-year budget adjustments, in line with set goals.
“Councillors need to decide in open meetings whether to end or defer valued existing activities, not unaccountable council staff in secret,” he says.
The report by consultant Doug Martin resulted from interviews with senior staff, politicians and stakeholders from other organisations, but not with general ratepayers.
It says the council’s existing organisational development programme, started in 2005 by chief executive David Rankin, is largely on track.
The programme aimed to deal with problems including lack of emphasis on customer service, underdeveloped leadership and lack of direction setting.
The review says the “ambitious” programme is likely to show results within 12 months, but there still needs to be a widespread culture change among council staff.
It makes 17 recommendations, including setting three or four key goals, limiting baseline operating spending, and reviewing savings monthly.
The findings of the report will be considered by the performance monitoring committee and the finance and strategy committee.