Meeting time costs $9,038 an hour
Given the recent media interest in the costs of running Auckland Council Governing Body, and Committee of the Whole meetings in which $20,000 was quoted, I sent a Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act request to the Council on the cost of such a meeting.
The questions I asked to Auckland Council were:
1) What is the cost per hour in running one of Auckland Council’s Committee of the Whole and the Governing Body?
Cost to be broken down by the following please
a) Councillor and if applicable IMSB wages (worked at their annual salary divided by a standard 40 hour week)
b) Average cost per hour of support staff such as democracy advisors to be at a Committee of the Whole
c) Average cost of an Executive Manager being present such as the CEO for the Governing Body meetings, COO for Regional Policy and Strategy, CFO for Finance and Performance, and Chief of Strategy for the Auckland Development Committee (again worked at their annual salary divided by a standard 40 hour week)
d) Stationery costs such as printed agendas and any support material needed for a Committee of the Whole you would reasonably expect (does not include Public Input section)
e) Catering costs given tea, coffee and lunches are provided for the Committees of the Whole when in session
f) Cost of physical infrastructure costs on a per hour basis when a Committee of the Whole is in session such as power, water and broadband bandwidth given the CoW’s are live streamed
2) As an extra what is the cost of preparation for a Committee of the Whole or the Governing Body. This includes:
a) Support staff putting agendas together
b) Stationery costs not covered by question 1 above
3) As a comparison exercise can figures for the 12/13, 13/14, 14/15 financial years (so actual costs rather than budgeted costs) be also produced to run the Committees of the Whole in Quarterly amounts please.
The Council replied to the LGOIMA with the following:
In short it costs $9,038/hour to run the Governing Body or a Committee of the Whole such as the Auckland Development Committee. However, there are other costs in setting up and post-Committee that bump the costs up as shown in the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act reply above, especially the Committee paper production costs at $8,478/hour. Now this does not include “policy production” that might occur and be brought to the Governing Body in which costs again would go up. Also not included is post-meeting policy or report production as a result from the Public Input sessions at the Governing Body or a Committee for that particular month. An example would be me presenting at the Auckland Development Committee recently for a full update on the Manukau Transport Interchange in which that full report is due back to the Committee either this month or next month from Auckland Transport.
Remember the main costs to the Ratepayer in the end is this:
As such, it is difficult to quantify exactly how much any one meeting costs, particularly as the costs are largely opportunity costs – that is, the costs of elected members and staff time comes at the expense of not doing something else.
It is the Opportunity Cost that costs us The City the most when Councillors go off on a tangent as some sadly do. Remember that when it comes to #Auckland2016 next year please…