You are not permitted to download, save or email this image. Visit image gallery to purchase the image.
Some new staff positions scheduled to start next year have been dropped as Otago Regional Council staff have started to pull back spending in order to stick to an 18% rates rise next year.
But staff numbers are due to keep rising at the council as it enters the second year of its 2021-31 long-term plan.
Council staff were told last month a forecast 20% rates rise next year was not good enough and that councillors would only accept the 18% rates increase consulted on for the long-term plan.
Since receiving that direction from councillors, proposed new roles at the ORC in governance and community engagement, and climate change and hazards, were dropped from the coming year, corporate planning manager Mike Roesler said this week.
The forecast rates rise next year had been pared back to 19% and staff were confident budgets could be further scaled back to get to the 18% maximum over the coming months, Mr Roesler said.
Corporate services general manager Nick Donnelly told councillors there would nevertheless continue to be a significant increase in staff at the council, and with the cuts the work programme the council had consulted on was not in jeopardy.
The "four or five" new positions that had been removed from next year’s budgets were over and above another 20-odd new staff coming on board in the coming year.
The council had added another 40-plus staff this year, Mr Donnelly said.
At the time of the long-term plan consultation, the ORC had been operating with about 245 staff.
That had increased to 290 full-time equivalent staff over this year.
The council would employ 300 staff at the end of this year, Mr Donnelly said.
And next year the number of staff was due to increase to about 320, he said.
During consultations on its current long-term plan, the ORC said it was undergoing a step change in its everyday functions as it met growing expectations from central government for Otago’s environmental management.
The budget revision for next year is due to be completed in February.
Councillors are due to approve a draft annual plan at the council’s March meeting next year.