MORE jobs could be made redundant at South Gippsland Shire Council in the future, in the wake of a proposed restructure announced last Thursday.
Council CEO Tim Tamlin told The Star, “There could be an opportunity to be leaner again”.
Council management has been criticised by some ratepayers for not axing more jobs and passing the savings onto ratepayers.
The restructure will result in the loss of just half a fulltime position, with 13.5 full time equivalent (FTE) roles made redundant but 13 new FTE roles created.
Management roles are most affected, with the number of management positions reduced from 23 to 13.
Most staff will be offered revised roles, possibly at lesser pay, but the amalgamation of some jobs is expected to result in three to four people leaving council.
Mr Tamlin said while the restructure was “not a cost cutting exercise”, it would result in “slight” financial savings that councillors could choose to pass onto ratepayers via cheaper rates.
“This is an exercise to position ourselves to perform at a higher level,” he said.
The CEO said there would be monetary savings that were unknown until the restructure was finalised.
“The real efficiencies are gained by upskilling our staff, implementing new systems and processes which will provide long term savings to the bottomline,” Mr Tamlin said.
Mr Tamlin said restructuring purely to save money was a “kamikaze approach” that would be only benefit ratepayers for up to two years, when the loss of staff would affect a council’s ability to work “smarter”.
The biggest change is the reduction in the number of directorates from four to three, with former director of corporate services June Ernst losing her role.
She will be offered the new role of corporate planning and elected member (councillor) coordinator, but the coordinator’s role is effectively two rungs of responsibility lower than a director and she is not expected to stay at council.
Mr Tamlin expanded the number of directorates from three to four when he took on the CEO’s role.
Many of the roles from the corporate services directorate were moved to the community services directorate. Jan Martin, council’s director of community services, will become director of corporate and community services.
Council currently has 18 managers and coordinators. The restructure proposes nine.
Other positions to be made redundant (not all fulltime) are: manager of customer relations, manager of governance services, manager of statutory planning, manager of strategic planning and development, manager of information services, executive assistant to the director of corporate services, communications officers (two positions), visitor information centres coordinator, building technical officer, grants officer, risk management coordinator, governance coordinator, emergency management coordinator, and return to work and risk officer.
New roles will be: corporate planning and elected member (councillor) coordinator and support officer, manager of planning, coordinator of customer service, coordinator of communications, manager of council business, innovation and technology, risk and procurement coordinator and officer, design engineer, municipal building surveyor, coordinator of grants and emergency management, and coordinator of business improvement.
People that have lost positions have been offered new roles they can accept or take a redundancy package.
Ratepayer Gary Napthine of Waratah North said the restructure does not go far enough to reducing costs.
“The usual business purpose of a restructure is to reduce costs. A reduction of 0.5 FTE (full time equivalent) is hardly going to achieve this end, and CEO Tamlin makes the point this is not a cost cutting exercise,” he said.
Mr Napthine said Mr Tamlin could be more specific in describing the costs of the positions to be removed and created.
Ratepayer Malcolm Davies of Foster said council had been increasing its workforce continually unchecked for the last 10 years.
“The enterprise wage agreement of four per cent every year for four years was too generous. Councillors have not given enough direction to rein in spending,” he said.
“The feel good option is to keep saying yes to everything but reality is that ratepayers cannot keep throwing money into the council coffers.”
Ratepayer Steve Finlay of Leongatha welcomed the restructure.
“It seems a great amount of time and effort is going into this proposed new organisational structure for council,” he said.
“I hope the proposal will be of great value to our CEO and may even benefit the rest of us.”
The restructure was designed by Mr Tamlin and his team of directors.
The CEO said the restructure resulted from the State Government’s proposal to introduce rate capping, reduced Federal Government grants, cost shifting by State and Federal governments, and new technology.
Council’s imminent new website will allow ratepayers to conduct more council business online, thereby avoiding the need for some staff to handle payments and enquiries, such as for planning permit applications.
“We have realigned our business. The way we did business in the other structure was taking into account more traditional local government approaches,” Mr Tamlin said.
“The way we are structuring now is to take advantage of technology and smarter ways of working through systems and processes, helping our customers connect with our business.”
Staff who lost their jobs were told privately ahead of a mass meeting of all council staff in Leongatha Memorial Hall at noon last Thursday.
Staff now have three weeks to consider whether or not to accept their new roles or take a redundancy package. Council leaders will also discuss the proposed restructure with relevant unions.
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