Coun­cil freezes wages

Auckland City Harbour News - - News - By Heather McCracken

STAFF at the Auck­land City Coun­cil will miss out on pay rises this year in or­der to keep rates in­creases down.

The pay freeze and other cost sav­ing mea­sures will help trim rate rises to 2 per­cent, a change prompted by the eco­nomic cri­sis.

Mayor John Banks says the coun­cil will con­tinue to ag­gres­sively cut costs, but the penny-pinch­ing won’t slow in­vest­ment in ma­jor cap­i­tal projects.

“De­spite the re­duced rates in­crease, we will main­tain the largest ever cap­i­tal in­vest­ment in the city next year,” he says.

Coun­cil­lors were alerted to the change in a memo from chief ex­ec­u­tive David Rankin on Wed­nes­day last week, one day be­fore the pol­icy was re­leased pub­licly.

In the memo, Mr Rankin said po­lit­i­cal leaders had asked the se­nior man­age­ment team to look at the bud­gets again, in light of the eco­nomic down­turn.

The sav­ings come from a num­ber of fac­tors in­clud­ing lower pro­jected costs in labour, raw ma­te­ri­als, de­pre­ci­a­tion and in­ter­est rates.

Mr Banks, deputy mayor David Hay and com­mit­tee chair­men had been in­volved in the process, Mr Rankin said.

No bud­get will be al­lo­cated for staff pay rises and any “lim­ited” in­creases will come from sav­ings.

“This is a sig­nif­i­cant move that was not taken lightly,” he said.

“It shows that we are tak­ing a lead in th­ese dif­fi­cult times to help the econ­omy ad­just and max­imise the city’s and the coun­try’s abil­ity to nav­i­gate the eco­nomic down­turn.”

Op­po­si­tion coun­cil­lors are an­gry they weren’t given any say in the de­ci­sion.

Labour-City Vi­sion cau­cus leader Richard Northey says the cost-cut­ting is likely to see more ser­vices slashed.

“Th­ese fur­ther cuts to coun­cil ser­vices and projects, com­ing on top of the sav­age cuts al­ready an­nounced, will be dev­as­tat­ing for Auck­land’s sub­ur­ban com­mu­ni­ties.”

The wage freeze will add to un­cer­tainty for staff al­ready anx­ious about the out­come of the Royal Com­mis­sion on Auck­land Gov­er­nance, Mr Northey says.

Last year the coun­cil an­nounced ma­jor cuts to bud­gets in or­der to keep rates in­creases within coun­cil’s rate of inflation, then 5.1 per­cent.

Coun­cil­lors meet on March 4 to dis­cuss the pro­posed fur­ther cuts.

The draft 10 year plan is re­leased for pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion in April, be­fore be­ing adopted in June.

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