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Council To Cut Staff Numbers

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Mayor Keith Campbell ... no other choice but to reduce employee costs

June 16, 2017

Rumours that the South Burnett Regional Council could soon be shedding staff were confirmed on Thursday afternoon. understands that up to 19 positions may not be renewed – mostly office staff – although the final figure has not been decided.

Some staff were informed this week their positions would no longer be funded.

Mayor Keith Campbell said in the “first instance”, savings would be made via voluntary redundancies and not filling vacancies.

He said Council had begun consultations with the relevant unions to develop a process to achieve the necessary staff reductions.

The staff cuts may “require some organisational structural changes including redeployment of staff and further redundancies”.

“It is not anticipated that operational field staff will be the focus of the job losses,” Mayor Campbell said.

A statement issued on Facebook said Council had “identified over the past few months whilst preparing the 2017-18 Budget that the organisation is facing a significant deficit in the general operations Budget”.

“In plain terms, we are spending more than we are getting in revenue,” Mayor Campbell said.

“This has been a constant issue over past Budgets, however we have achieved enough cost cutting and made enough savings each Budget to minimise the impact.”

He said his year Council unfortunately had to grapple with declining income streams across development areas, tourist parks and interest from investments.

“This combined with a significant increase in the depreciation expense, created a larger than normal shortfall of around $1.5 million,” the Council statement said.

Mayor Campbell said it was not practical to raise rates by 7 or 8 per cent to cover this shortfall, so the only significant area of the Budget left to achieve the reduction was employee costs.

“This has been a very difficult decision but a necessary one if we are to remain sustainable in future Budgets,” Mayor Campbell said.

“I can appreciate that this process will be stressful for our staff and we will endeavour to undertake the process as quickly and compassionately as possible, providing staff with the necessary support to minimise any adverse impact.”

[UPDATED with correction]

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4 Responses to Council To Cut Staff Numbers

  1. Daryl Swan

    Thanks to Backflip Beattie, the amalgamation of Shire Councils to form Regional Councils has been nothing short of a disaster and the SBRC is a prime example. Expenditure exceeding Revenue is a recipe for disaster especially for this level of Government and it is woeful to think the only apparent remedy is staff redundancy, voluntary or otherwise, ie reducing staff expenses.

    The Mayor has outlined the reasons and various areas of declining income that has lead to a $1.5 miilion shortfall in the 2017-18 Budget. This time around the SBRC has a Get Out Of Jail card but one wonders what will happen if the same situation faces the Council for future Budgets. A 7-8% rates increase looks like being avoided this time but SB residents will be looking down the barrel at this scenario for sure and certain if the Council cannot turn the equation around ie Revenue exceeds Expenditure. My respectful opinion is that it will be an uphill battle to achieve this turnaround unless there is significant development that actually goes ahead, not be approved and then lie dormant or fall over for one reason or another, and local tourism gets a huge boost.

    Oh for that elusive Crystal Ball!

  2. Keith Campbell

    The summary of your comment Darryl carries substance. However, amalgamation or not, this is where we are. I’m determined to explore the best ways this Council can ensure sustainability for the future of South Burnett Regional Council. There may be some pain, however the flip side is that we need to look for the gains. In this conversation, I invite your opinions.

    • Daryl Swan

      Keith, I am overseas at present but will be home the middle of this week. Hopefully I can catch up with you in the subsequent near future and discuss this matter. As you say you we, the SB residents in conjunction with the Council, have to make the effort to find the gains to ease the pains in order to ensure that Revenue exceeds Expenditure on a yearly basis.

      I just think it is a great pity that this time the “gain” is staff redundancy. Those Council personnel who will be made redundant through no fault of their own will become job seekers and hopefully each will be successful. If not then ultimately it will effect them and their families as well as the local economy and that is far from ideal to say the very least.

  3. Rod Long

    I don’t entirely agree that amalgamations were a disaster or that the SB is a prime example of that. In the past 9 years the Council has moved from a weak financial position to a stable one. And despite a potential black hole opening up in the 2017/18 Budget – which this latest move is designed to plug – we shouldn’t overlook the fact this Council will be ending the financial year with a $1 million surplus, which is $500,000 better than expected.

    I think the South Burnett has generally been a well-run ship and I commend past and present Councillors for keeping their nerve and maintaining pretty tight fiscal discipline year after year. We may not like what this requires sometimes, but we like big rate rises even less.

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