Mayoral view: Aiming to get the most out of every dollar

Southland District Mayor Rob Scott
Southland District Mayor Rob Scott
Cliches. Love ’em or hate ’em, they are commonly used. Whoever came up with them will be wishing they could receive a royalty every time they are repeated.

As we head into the consultation phase of our long-term plan (LTP), one [cliche] I know we will often hear is we should be "cutting our coat according to our cloth". But what does this actually mean?

In a conversation with someone the other day, they asked if we were reducing staff numbers for our LTP. It reminded me of a popular meme that pops up quite often. A whole lot of people standing around Dave who is working on a road. The quote says "due to cutbacks, we are going to have to let Dave go".

Having run my own businesses, I have always been conscious of council running a lean, mean, fighting machine. Cutting costs by getting rid of Dave though, will leave us all standing around the pothole wondering why nobody is fixing it.

I would be disappointed if we weren’t looking for efficiencies all year round, better ways of doing things and making sure we were getting the most out of every dollar.

In a conversation with one of our "Daves", he raised the fact that for a piece of work we are legislated to look after, a council further north than us has a dedicated comms team of 18 people. Not only is this three times the number of our comms team, it is also more than the total number of people in our council for this activity.

We do a lot with a little. I acknowledge we aren’t perfect, and we recognise the fact a proposed 13.66% average rate rise in this tough economic climate is not an easy pill to swallow.

When we started work on this LTP 18 months ago, I asked our chief financial officer what our starting number was. This was essentially if we were to carry on with the current plan with a budgeted increase of around 8% and the number wasn’t flash. With inflation alone, the number had skyrocketed to nearly 30%.

Over the past 18 months we have been carefully and methodically moulding a coat that will still keep us warm, but will make use of every bit of cloth we have. Please head to www.makeitstick.nz to take a look at our consultation document and let us know if you think we have got it right.

— Rob Scott is the Southland District Mayor