Council answers questions on redundancies, costs and long term financial plan

MidCoast Council's director of corporate service Steve Embry and Cr Kathryn Bell
MidCoast Council's director of corporate service Steve Embry and Cr Kathryn Bell

MidCoast Council's director of corporate services Steve Embry gave a response to Questions with Notice from Councillor Kathryn Bell, at the ordinary council meeting on July 22.

The questions related to staff redundancies, costs, recruitment and the long term financial plan.

The questions and answers are below:

Question One

How many full-time staff members have left MidCoast Council, each year, since the commencement of the 2017/2018 financial year and what has been the annual total redundancy cost for departing staff each of those years?

Question Two

How many new full-time staff members have been recruited each year, since the commencement of the 2017/2018 financial year and what have been the total annual recruitment costs in each of those years?

Answers to questions one and two from director of corporate services Steve Embry.

2017/18 - staff turnover was 8.6%, (65 exits, 96 new starters), the local government industry average turnover was 14%.

2018/19 - staff turnover was 7.8%, (62 exits, 79 new starters), the local government industry average turnover was 13%.

2019/20 - data not yet available. The data is from a local government industry report which is not available until the end of 2020.

A separate exercise to prepare this information would be required to present 2019/20 figures before the end of the calendar year.

In response to a question from councillor Peter Epov in 2019 redundancy costs since merger were provided to council and placed on the public record at the August 28 2019 council meeting.

The following answer was provided to council at this meeting and covered the period from merger to June 30 2019:

a. "The value of redundancies paid out since the date of merger (May 12 2016) is $4,190,312.

b. 44 staff received redundancies. None of those positions have been replaced."

For the 2019/20 financial year there have been a further five redundancies at a cost of $225,894.

Recruitment costs for all recruitment including full time, part time, casuals, apprentices and trainees is shown below. Costs include advertising, professional services and preemployment medicals:

2017/18 - $86,169.20

2018/19 - $87,781.81

2019/20 - $91,814.00

Question 3

The Local Government Act 1993 identifies as a requirement under the Integrated Planning and Reporting Framework that the Long Term Financial Plan is reviewed and updated when developing the Operational Plan. Is this correct? If it is, why wasn't the Long Term Financial Plan 2017/2018, not updated with the 2019/2020 or 2020/2021 Operational Plan? Doesn't this make it difficult for Councillors and the Community to compare Council's performance particularly when comparative figures are not included with the budget?

Answer to question three from director corporate services Steve Embry.

The Director of Corporate Services verbally answered this question at the council meeting held on July 8 2020 and advised of the reasons for the delay in the preparation of the LTFP (long term financial plan).

In recapping on the information previously advised to councillors the following is provided:

The review/update of the LTFP plan (based on the 2020/2021 Operational Plan) is currently underway and will be prepared using external resources working with council staff.

The engagement of external assistance is necessary given the need to divert all available staff resources to the completion of the 2019/2020 financial statements.

The long term financial plan would usually be reviewed annually in conjunction with the development of the operational plan.

The delay in finalising the audit of the 2018/2019 financial statements and staff resourcing issues impacted on the normal timeframes for budget development and financial reporting which would include a review of the LTFP.

The long term financial plan will be presented to councillors later this year.

The council merger required the integration of four financial systems into one.

This integration became effective on July 1 2019 for the 2019/20 financial year.

A long term financial plan is a 10-year projection and requires a detailed and accurate financial base to ensure the plan assists council in financial decision making.

It was necessary to integrate all information into the new financial system to provide this accurate base and this took some time to complete.

The Long Term Financial Plan is part of council's Resourcing Strategy, which outlines council's capacity to manage assets and deliver services over the next 10 years.

The Resourcing Strategy includes three key elements - a Workforce Management Plan, an Asset Management Plan, and a Long Term Financial Plan.

To prepare the Resourcing Strategy, council determines its capacity and how to effectively manage its finances, the sustainability of its workforce, and the overall cost and condition of its community assets.

The purpose of a Long Term Financial Plan is to provide a framework to assist future decision making that will secure the financial sustainability and ensure adequate funds are generated into the future to achieve outcomes desired by the community.

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This story Council answers questions on redundancies, costs and long term financial plan first appeared on Manning River Times.