Queenstown Lakes Mayor Vanessa van Uden's election
campaign promise to further reduce council spending on
consultants has been realised, financial records show.
A document released to the Otago Daily Times under the
Official Information Act shows the money spent on consultants
and the number of consultants used by the Queenstown Lakes
District Council has significantly decreased in the past four
years, including Ms van Uden's mayoralty, which began in
Dating back to the 2005-06 financial year, the records show
spending peaked in 2007-08, when 45 consultants were paid a
total of $18,607,015. This was reduced to $16,928,293 in
2008-09 and the amount spent was halved the following year.
The most recent full-year spend on consultants was $3,647,707
in 2011-12, when 30 consultants were engaged. The document
also showed $1,594,871 had been spent during the first five
months of the 2012-13 year, from July to November.
QLDC finance general manager and deputy chief executive
Stewart Burns said there were two reasons why the amount
spent on consultants had diminished dramatically from
''Firstly, council reorganised its engineering services in
2009 which resulted in more council engineering staff being
employed and less work for consultants,'' he said.
''Secondly, the period 2006 to 2009 was a high-growth phase
for the district and consultants were engaged to plan, design
and deliver various infrastructure projects. Since 2009,
there have been relatively few new large capital projects to
deliver and the focus has been to reduce capital spend.''
Vanessa van Uden
Ms van Uden said the focus had also been on what
consultants were used for. While serving as a councillor before
she became mayor, she took issue with the huge amount of money
spent on consultants during the 2007-08 and 2008-09 financial
''That to me was absolutely unacceptable and still is
During her election campaign, she vowed to redress the
council's record of spending millions of dollars on
out-of-town consultants by instead drawing on the
professional skills available within the community, and she
believed the ongoing Shaping our Future initiative had helped
meet that objective.
''[Consultants] have a place ... but they're not there to do
the jobs that the community is already paying council staff
to do,'' she said.
''We need to make sure that the staff are fully utilised
before we rush out and get a consultant.''
She said it was extremely satisfying to see the level of
reduction in spending on consultants in recent years.
''It's really important to recognise the huge amount of
progress that's been made on that and we need to make sure we
keep our finger on that and continue to monitor it and always
be asking the question: `Do we really need a consultant to do