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Next week, councillors will determine the increase in overall rates the council will take next year and the level of borrowing required to make up the shortfall.
Four options ranging from a 0% rates rise to the originally proposed 6.5% rates rise will be up for consideration as the finance department advises for every 1% drop in the rates rise the council will lose another $1.6million in revenue.
A 0% rates rise would require $14million of additional borrowing; a 3.5% rates rise would require $8.5million in increased borrowing; a 4.1% rates rise would require an added $7.5million in borrowing; and the 6.5% status quo increase would require $3.7million in borrowing.
The council finance department has found $4.8million in savings, including a $1.8million in staff costs.
This week, council chief executive Sue Bidrose said the council’s top three tiers of management had all agreed to take voluntary pay cuts of up to 6% for six months to save the council nearly $200,000.
"Every single manager agreed immediately, voluntarily, in order to help."
Most managers took a 2% year-long cut, others took sharper cuts for less time.
The Otago Daily Times asked the council what assurances it had made its staff about job security and whether there was a review of permanent positions that could result in job losses as are reportedly occurring elsewhere in local government.
"We are looking to make savings in salaries by tightly managing vacancies, including deferring recruitment wherever possible. In addition, we have ended a number of fixed-term positions and not renewing where the work is non-essential or may be deferred," Dr Bidrose said.
"It has been our aim to ensure permanent staff retain their positions wherever possible. A number of our staff are still working providing emergency and community response activities, but overwhelmingly staff are now returning to business as usual.
"If councillors elect to cut projects and services then we will have to assess the impact but we would manage that, as we have in the past, through attrition and vacancy management."
The council’s 2018-19 annual report shows 75 council staff earned more than $100,000 a year, 40 topped $120,000, including 12 paid more than $160,000.
No update was available this week, but an update would be made public in the coming 2019-20 annual report.
Before Covid-19, council proposed adding 27.1 full-time equivalent positions to its ranks next year and with salary increases add $4.8million in spending on staff, bringing total forecast spending on staff to $69.8million next year.