Georges River Council's staff numbers and salaries under the spotlight

Council's staff numbers and salaries under the spotlight

Georges River Council staffing numbers will be under the spotlight following this week's extraordinary council meeting.

The meeting was called for the council to consider a proposal to seek an 8.1 per cent Special Rate Variation and the harmonisation of its minimum rate which currently varies for residents living in the former Kogarah and Hurstville Local Government Areas.

But councillors instead voted 9:5 to defer consideration of a rate increase until the next financial year to allow the council to investigate staff reductions and salary reductions as part of future cost saving measures.

This was in support of an amendment lodged by deputy mayor Con Hindi who was concerned at the increase in staff since the council amalgamation.

"According to the council's annual report we have full time staff of 567," Councillor Hindi said.

"Why did the council increase the number of staff? It should have been reduced by 50 rather than increased by 50.

"Where did the staff go? What I am hearing is that people are not clearing the gutters or the footpaths.

"If that 50 staff are at the coalface, we are happy with that. Where are they? They seem to be in middle management and upper management."

Cr Hindi said councillors would not vote to increase rates blindly.

"We will increase rates when we know there has been a genuine attempt at reducing the number of staff," he said.

"Let's have a comparison of salaries. At Sutherland Shire and Georges River councils the general manager is paid the same.

"But Sutherland Shire has 250,000 people and Georges River 158,000. Sutherland Shire has a budget of $150 million and Georges River has a budget of $93 million.

"Sutherland Shire has a budget for senior directors of $1.2 million and Georges River $1.5 million.

"Why is that? We do have more directors than other councils.

"At Bankstown their General Manager gets paid $512,000. Ours gets paid $440,000. They have a budget of $320 million, we have $93 million of spending.

"So before we start lifting rates, because that is the easiest thing to do, people need to make the hard decisions.

"I'm not advocating that we reduce staff in the frontline and the coalface. In fact, we may have to increase some of them.

"But I can see where the 50 extra staff are. They are in the middle and upper management. With all due respect, they are terrific people but as a structure it doesn't sit well.

"I've compared it with other councils. We've got more directors than anybody else. We need to reduce our costs."

Cr Hindi later clarified his remarks.

"I am not saying that we want staff reduced by a certain number," he said.

"Staff numbers and positions is a matter for the General Manager not the councillors. I have given an example to show how this can be done. What I am advocating for is a reduction in cost without affecting any essential services/core business that council provides.

"It is up to the General Manager to find those savings to ensure a balanced budget going into the future," Cr Hindi said.

The council's general manager Gail Connolly said there were 52 directors and managers when Kogarah and Hurstville Council amalgamated and there were 30 prior to the election of Georges River Council.