Auckland Council is one of the city’s biggest employers with over 10,000 full time equivalent employees and annual staff costs of $866 million.
But is the super city getting good value for money?
That’s the question the Auckland Council’s Appointments, Performance Review and Value for Money Committee is looking at as part of a review of the council’s Human Resource Management Services (HRMS).
The audit covers the entire Auckland Council Group. This includes the actual council, as well as Council Controlled Organisations (CCOs) Auckland Transport (AT), ATEED, Panuku, Regional Facilities Auckland and Watercare.
It will look at human resource management, employee remuneration, payroll and recruitment and selection, training and development.
The terms of reference for the audit were approved last week and the actual review is expected to start next month. The final report and findings are expected to be delivered in August.
Figures released as part of the council annual report late last year showed the Auckland Council Group’s wages bill was up, along with the number of staff earning six figure salaries.
The total cost of the council group’s employee benefits has grown from $853 million in 2017 to $866 million in 2018. With the total number of Auckland Council Group staff earning over $100,000 increasing from a total of 2,250 in 2017 to 2,473 in 2018.
Auckland councillor Mike Lee isn’t a member of the Auckland Council’s Appointments, Performance Review and Value for Money Committee which is carrying out the review, but he says he’ll be watching with interest.
He says staffing costs are just one of the many areas where the council could rein in its profligate spending.
“The whole idea of the super city was we were supposed to combine our resources and have less people working more efficiently. That’s what Rodney Hide told us.”
But Lee says the end result has been markedly different.
“There’s been a significant increase in the number of staff. That’s one of the reasons why the council is now financially challenged and we’re now near our borrowing limit,” he says.
The former Auckland Regional Council chairman refers to the increase in employee benefits between 2016 and 2017 as an example.
But Lee says it’s not just staffing costs that are out of control.
“This council spends way too much on itself.”
However, a quick trawl through the council annual reports shows the Auckland Council Group’s total employee benefits bill has been increasing year on year for some time.
It spent $693 million on total employee benefits in 2013, $730 million in 2014, $792 million in 2015, $803 million in 2016, $853 million in 2017 and $866 million in 2018. An increase of 25% between 2013 and 2018.
While the number of staff earning six figure salaries has increased from 1,500 in 2013 to 1,780 in 2014, 1,912 in 2015, 2,048 in 2016, 2,250 in 2017 and 2,473 staff in 2018. An increase of 65% between 2013 and 2018.
With the rapid growth in the Auckland Council Group's staffing costs over a number of years, coupled with its total debt topping $8,832 billion in the 2017/2018 financial year, maybe the latest review is timely.
Auckland Mayor Phil Goff, who is also the chair of the Auckland Council’s Appointments, Performance Review and Value for Money Committee, was unavailable for comment for this story.