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Owen Cartledge - 14 April 2015

Owen Cartledge made the following comments in the Public Access Session at the Ordinary Council Meeting on 14 April 2015.

Question to Eurobodalla Shire Council from Owen Cartledge

On 12 November 2014 (Bay Post) the Eurobodalla Shire Council General Manager gave three reasons for high staff numbers in Eurobodalla Shire Council. One of the three reasons was the presence of 30 apprentices, cadets and trainees. In defending these numbers the General Manager stated "in comparison to all local governments our demographic in our age group between 15-19 is three times that of NSW Councils." ABS statistics show young people are underrepresented in the Eurobodalla population.

Despite the worthwhile nature of this program I ask why the Eurobodalla Shire Council has chosen to have about [three] times as many apprentices as benchmarking would suggest.

The current SRV saga seems to have quickly evolved in time from 1. A list of projects to meet "needs and wants" of our community (July 2014) to 2. Maintenance of existing infrastructure to now 3. Meeting a potential crisis in future deficits.

My question is given the ever changing opaque, and alarming Eurobodalla Shire Council finances; what savings have Eurobodalla Shire Council identified, both short and long term, so far?

Council Reply

Dear Owen

Thank you for making the time and effort to contribute to public access session held prior to our Ordinary Meeting of Council on 14 April 2015.  Contributions to public access sessions are a welcome insight into the views of our local community.

With regard to your comments about our workforce; in 2014, Council developed a Workforce Management Plan to address the human resourcing requirements for its Delivery Program.  It is a strategic approach to workforce planning to ensure Council has the right employees, with the right skills, to deliver the services required by the community, both now and in the future.

The ageing workforce is an Australian wide phenomenon and concern, and more so for regional councils.  An action item of the Plan focuses on attracting and retaining younger workers to address this trend.  For a number of years Council has provided one-year youth traineeships, via the Youth Employment Traineeship Scheme (YETS) which is restricted to youth living within the Shire and who are under 21. This scheme has enabled Council to place around six or seven young local residents per annum. Council also provides other two year operational (outdoor) traineeships as well as a considerable number of apprenticeships and cadetships which are open to all applicants.  The approach to youth traineeships has evolved over the years to allow for retention of the trainees as employees on completion of the traineeship. This has been a conscious decision to try to achieve a more balanced workforce profile and to allow for younger people to gain the experience and skills required to replace the generally aging workforce.

In 2005, Eurobodalla Shire Council was recognised for its work in training and succession planning and was awarded NSW Employer of the Year and the National Employer of the Year category at the Australian Training Awards. This is the only time a Local Government authority has won the prestigious National Award.

Council has identified savings in staffing, including direct savings such as productivity savings and moderation of training in certain areas and absorption of some positions into existing operational budgets.  There has also been substantial savings through the pausing and lowering of indexation across council operations and programs.  For example, during the last financial year we saved $1.27 million in employee costs.

Further, there has been efficiency gains in the delivery of the Integrated Planning and Reporting suite of plans (including the Community Strategic Plan, Resourcing Plan, Delivery Program and Operational Plan).  Other savings include $580,000 in the draft budget and $300,000 in the forthcoming financial year. I have attached an excerpt from Councils Special Rate Variation application which outlines our productivity improvements and cost containment strategies for your information.

Thank you once again for contributing to Council meetings on such an important issue.  Should you require further information, please don't hesitate to contact Council's Finance and Business Development, Mr Anthony O'Reilly on 4474 1205.

Yours sincerely

Dr Catherine Dale

General Manager