Council ‘double dips’
A DECISION to use money from community board budgets to pay for a new Auckland City Council staff member has been labelled as “morally corrupt”.
The council allocated an extra $500,000 in small local improvements funding across the city’s 10 community boards this year and will provide another $500,000 in the next financial year.
But the boards have been told by the council that it plans to take back $100,000 to pay for an extra staff member to manage the extra projects the money is expected to generate.
Councillor Graeme Mulholland, who sits on the Mt Roskill Community Board, says boards already pay administration costs on all their projects.
“To me, it’s double dipping. I’ve never heard of it before,” he says.
Avondale, Eastern Bays, Maungakiekie, Mt Roskill, Western Bays and Tamaki boards will have to contribute $10,670 each, Eden-Albert and Hobson will give $12,004 each while Waiheke will pay $6669 and Great Barrier $5335.
Mr Mulholland says staff are normally employed by the council’s chief executive, who has a budget for salaries.
He has questioned whether the council has the authority to use the money once is has been allocated to the boards.
“The council has granted this money out of its funds for community Slips funding, which is then at the discretion of the community boards. It’s morally corrupt.”
Mt Roskill Community Board chairman Richard Barter says the money will come out of its operational expenditure, which currently has a $50,000 budget.
However, that money is needed to pay for scoping on capital expenditure projects.
He says cutting the budget will effectively limit the number of capital projects the board is able to undertake.
Boards already pay an average of 20 percent in administration costs for each project.
Western Bays Community Board chairman Bruce Kilmister says the money has been taken with no regard for the boards.
“We are deeply upset about it. I will be going to the city development committee to ask them to rescind it. It’s totally inappropriate.”
Eden-Albert Community Board chairman Chris Dempsey says no one is impressed by the decision.
He says it raises the spectre of budgets being agreed to for specific things and then changed to cover other expenses they were not originally intended for.
Council environmental and utility manager Grant Ockleston says the $500,000 budget increase equates to around 23 additional projects per year.
“A lot of work is required to scope, manage and deliver each project, regardless of dollar value.
“The options considered were to recruit an additional team member or reduce the extra budget awarded to the community boards,” Mr Ockleston says.
He says the boards are not paying twice for the delivery management aspect of their projects.
“The project management fees detailed in board reports are for the physical delivery of individual projects.”
He says team members identify the people who will be impacted by the project and inform and consult with them, make sure the project lines up with internal policies, identify and manage any problems that arise with the project and defi the actual project brief.