$230,085 in severance pay

The Dunedin City Council says a $230,000 bill for severance payments to departing staff is the cost of progress.

Council figures showed eight payments, ranging from $4479 to $76,939, and together totalling $233,085, had been made to departing council staff in the year to June 30.

The bill comprised four ''retirement gratuities'' paid to long-serving staff upon retirement, as well as severance payments to four other staff made redundant.

However, council chief executive Dr Sue Bidrose told the Otago Daily Times the total bill was down on previous years and she expected the trend to continue.

''There's been a lot of change in the council and this kind of signals the big changes are reaching their natural end.''

The latest bill came after council made severance payments totalling $459,000 in 2013-14, $368,000 in 2012-13 and $628,000 in 2011-12.

Together, severance payments in the past seven years totalled just over $2 million.

Council organisational development and performance group manager Marian Rillstone said the payments were based on agreed terms and conditions and were not a golden handshake.

''The organisation pays what we should pay staff - what they're entitled to.''

While it was sometimes best to keep staff within the organisation, by deploying them into other roles when change took place, there were occasions when it was best to make a payment, she said.

''It's a tool like any other management tool. I think they're legitimate as long as they're used appropriately.''

The sums involved were ''indicative of some of the changes that needed to have happened at council'', as the organisation moved through a series of significant restructures in recent years, she said.

The latest bill was made up of payments spread across the organisation, and did not reflect recent changes within the council's water and waste services and information technology departments, she said.

''I think for the stage the organisation's at, and what it's doing, it is actually quite a good figure.''

chris.morris@odt.co.nz

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