David Thorton Comments on the Current Situation Around Council and High End Labour Costs
From David Thorton (all references, rights and credits to David Thorton)
Auckland Council salaries – my thoughts.
However the report that 1,165 staff are paid $100,000 is surprising as that represents 14% of the total of 8,000 employees. These salary figures are directly related to the sheer size of the organisation, the largest local authority in the Southern Hemisphere, and larger than any local authority in Europe, and possibly any country which operates on the English style of local councils.That size has presented a real problem for the Mayor and Councillors, none of whom had any experience of governance of such a huge organisation.
This was a significant challenge facing newly elected members and it must be said that this first Council has failed to meet that challenge.
The record of political decision-making during these first two years has provoked strong anti-council feelings among ratepayers and residents.
The root of the problem is that too much political decision-making power has been placed in too few hands, The Chief Executive is paid to manage the organisation, which, in my experience is functioning reasonably well in terms of the mechanisms required for such a large organisation.But the political representation needs an urgent review, particularly in respect of the ability of ratepayers and residents to influence decision-making.
A stronger representative structure, with more control passing down to purely local levels, would start to put the ‘local’ back into local government.
And bringing back some of the CCOs under direct council control should reduce the number of six-figure salary earners.-ends-
And as my first piece of “policy” I am setting about research in the feasibility of resetting funding back towards Local Boards to adequately fund community services, advocacy and capital projects. Using a particular Local Board as an example, the community inside that Local Board’s jurisdiction pay $106 million in rates to Auckland Council but only get 10% (if that back) per year to fund those “community services, advocacy and capital projects.” I believe control needs to come back to the local level away from the disconnected central body (Council and the Bureaucracy) thus between 25-33% of all rates revenue from a Local Board’s ratepayers should come straight back to the Local Board for those “community services, advocacy and capital projects.” Why? Because Local Boards are more accessible and responsive to the needs of their communities than the central body of Council and the bureaucracy ever could. And yes that means shifting some of the “responsibilities” over to Local Boards away from the central body. But proper resources and staff (that Boards do not have) would and should be able to handle this move.
So time for some research on the above policy. If it is feasible then we run with it and advocate strongly to Auckland Council, if non-feasible then back to the drawing board. But in any case I am putting the above policy out there for consideration and dialogue (leave comments below).
I will continue to develop ideas and write commentary as we progress to 2013 and the Local Government Elections. Dialogue and constructive comments are welcome as always.
BEN ROSS : AUCKLAND
Shining The Light –
To a Better Auckland
Auckland 2013: YOUR CITY – YOUR CALL