80 jobs to go from QLDC?


Queenstown Lakes District Council could shed 80 jobs as it restructures:

. . .The draft report proposes reducing the number of staff to 254, meaning 80 staff could lose their jobs.

Of the 334 employees, 163 are employed in operations – which includes service centre managers, librarians, admin and support staff.

The draft report proposes reducing operations staff by 42 to 121 and reducing planning department staff from 49 to 33.     

The loss of 80 staff is a significant reduction. While having sympathy for the people involved, QLDC rates are high and staff costs will be a significant factor in that.

However, it’s not just numbers but the effectiveness and efficiency of the service they provide which matters.

One of the key recommendations of the draft is to move as many Queenstown-based staff as possible into one building.

Currently staff are spread across several different offices and locations.

All frontline staff need to be in one location, the recommendation said.

Developing an internal culture of performance and public service was key as the council dovetailed its activities, the report said.

The review team observed that, excluding frontline staff, customer service was not always seen as important.

Not recognising the importance of customer service is not peculiar to QLDC.

The amount of needless paperwork generated for meetings also came under heavy scrutiny.

A significant amount of councillor and staff time and effort was put into more than 4000 pages of reports prepared for meetings over the past eight months.

More than 30 per cent of the material was judged to be needless and reducing the paperwork would free up staff resources.

Key points of the paperwork were considered more appropriately dealt with by the chief executive and management.

It was recommended only vital reports containing meaningful information should progress to council or committee meetings. . .

Needless reports wouldn’t be peculiar to QLDC either.

The council’s chief executive Adam Feeley was appointed last year after resigning as head of the Serious Fraud Office.

Perhaps skills he learned at the SFO have enabled him to look at the council and its performance in a way someone who came through the bureaucracy wouldn’t.

He said in January that an organisational review was his number one priority:

”Everything else takes a back seat to that, because everything else on my list can’t be dealt with until I have the type of organisation that can deal with these problems,” Mr Feeley told the Wanaka Residents Association annual meeting last week.

The goal of the review of QLDC activities was to develop a more efficient organisation which had greater cost effectiveness, better skills and capabilities, and that met the expectations of all communities within the district, Mr Feeley said.

He acknowledged the review, which included covering the activities of more than 230 staff, could result in redundancies. But rather than being purely a ”slash and burn exercise”, it was geared at producing motivated staff and giving the public an organisation which was easy to deal with. . .

A council culture of you have to do this rather than how can we help and concentration on rules  without taking account of their affects afflicts other councils which might learn from the changes proposed for QLDC.

Why pump sewage uphill?


James Weir writes in the Dominion that if there’s no rain in the next three weeks we’ll be asked to start conserving power. Hydro storage is down to 54% of average, the worst levels since the 1992 power crisis.


It isn’t very difficult to save a bit of power – The Listener (preview available now full story on-line in a month) reckons that turning off at the wall the “vampire” appliances which suck power while on standby will save $75 a year – but an uncharitable corner of my mind is asking why bother?


I understand the problem we’re facing and that every little bit helps. But I also wonder what’s the point of individuals doing our little bits when for example, Queenstown Lakes District Council is building a sewerage scheme which will pump Wanaka’s sewage 10 kilometres uphill all day, every day.


Let’s set aside the question of what happens when power fails, as it does now and then when it snows; and the fact that the oxidation ponds where the sewage ends up will attract birds which could cause problems for the nearby airport.


Let’s just ask why, when we’re supposed to be aiming for sustainability; when gravity is free and less prone to breakdowns than electricity; when ratepayers (of whom I am one) are already struggling with the cost of infrastructure for the rapidly growing town; would you build a new scheme which requires you to pump sewage that distance uphill with the attendant financial and environmental costs?


Hat tip: The Hive

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