What can we slash – DCC

### ODT Online Sat, 6 Nov 2010
Harland’s ‘big ask’: Save city $6m
By Chris Morris
Dunedin City Council managers are under pressure to help find $6 million in savings and slash next year’s forecast 9.1% rates increase by two-thirds. Council chief executive Jim Harland yesterday confirmed he aimed to find the savings from within the operating costs of council departments, along with capital spending and associated debt-repayment costs.
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Post by Elizabeth Kerr


Filed under Economics, People, Politics, Project management

6 responses to “What can we slash – DCC

  1. Peter

    I wonder what capital spending is on the table for reconsideration. A few ’embellishments’ for the stadium trimmed off? Or a capital project like the South Dunedin Library/Community Centre shelved, or put forward, for another day? We’ll soon see come LTCCP 2010- 2011. Shall we place bets? Syd Brown, recently appointed by Dave Cull as Chairman of Finance, Strategy and Development, said the other day that a number of grants to community projects will be chopped if they don’t meet some Triple A criteria that denotes worthiness for future consideration.

  2. Anonymous

    Logan Park redevelopment, South Dunedin library.
    $25 million, straight off.

  3. The proposed new South Dunedin library should be on the list to be cut. It is not far from the Central Library, with a free bus service for Gold Card holders. As well as the capital cost, it will have significant annual operating costs. And it seems to be wanted as a drop-in centre rather than a library.
    But top of the list to be cut should be the proposed new $3.8 million building for the Academy of Sport. Surely they can be provided for in existing space in the city.

  4. Phil

    Internal efficiencies would be a start. The amount of money that the DCC spends every year on external consultants is mindblowing, especially when there is no attempt made to source the relevant skills from within DCC ranks. Staff are judged not by the skills they possess, but by the positions they fill. There is no global “talent list” for all departments to see what skills there are available for them before outsourcing work to more expensive external consultants who do not have the interests of DCC at heart. That is a major senior management failure, in my opinion. And one so easily rectified.

    I think there is also fear from some department managers that the use of internal resources might lead to the exposure of weaknesses within their own groups by their peers. But that’s just my theory.

    A couple of examples. For 3 years, DCC employed a highly qualified, and registered, property valuer. Yet, this staff member was never once asked to value, or even offer an opinion on the valuation, of any property within the DCC portfolio. Despite numerous property transactions during that period totalling several million dollars. All valuation work was offered out to one external property consultant.

    DCC has 3 registered Quantity Surveyors currently employed. In other roles. Again, all QS work is outsourced. These internal staff members are also recognised by NZIA and NZIQS as suitably qualified construction project managers and contract dispute negotiators. Yet, not one of them has been invited to participate in any such role during their employment with DCC. Maybe Tahuna might not have been the PR mess that it currently is today.

    The lack of use of the only registered property valuer within DCC is, frankly, inexcusable. Despite that person’s experience and qualifications being an integral part of the decision to hire them in the first place, in a department who is a supposed specialist in that area. As for the QSs, I don’t hold the other departments responsible. They would not have been aware that such a person existed. But what would an inter-departmental email cost, either advising that one had been employed, or asking if one was available?

    Way too much empire building still going on.

    The I.T. department needs a shakeup. They are a service provider, not a profit generating department. It’s false money that just travels around in circles. It’s also about 10 years overdue to re-visit the preferred supplier of computers to the DCC. Hardly competitive any more. Does every computer need to replaced every 2 or 3 years? Really? And does the level of salary scale really need to determine the size of computer screen that one has?

    And does a Group Manager really need a $5,000 office chair. No, unfortunately that’s not a typo.

    Do all of the 50 DCC car pool cars need to be taken home by staff members at night? Are every one of those people on a 24-hour emergency call out? Those who have a genuine and reasonable need to be in an after hours call out involving transport can take a car home while they are in that roster. No worries about that. But it should be a MARKED car, and not one of the ever increasing number of unmarked cars that allow for people to pick up their groceries and go to the movies. Cut out the abuse of the system from within.

    Do DCC staff really need to have carparks paid for their private cars within DCC owned car park buildings in the CBD? I don’t think that one needs an answer.

    I believe it is a mistake to give the internal cost cutting responsibility over to management within DCC ranks. With the best will in the world, they can not be viewed as truely objective. This is one task that should be appointed externally, and should be reporting directly back to Council, not to the CEO.

    And that’s all I have to say about that.

    • Elizabeth

      ### ODT Online Mon, 8 Nov 2010
      Editorial: Unrelenting pressure
      Otago’s district councils begin their new terms facing a common and perpetual problem; how to save money. The pressure is greater than ever this term because rates rises in most areas have soared, the economy continues to stutter and many recession-battered households and businesses face acute money woes.
      Read more

  5. Calvin Oaten

    Phil, you seem to have an inside insight to the operations and the inefficiencies abounding therein. It all just confirms what I have been banging on about for a very long time. Let’s hope Dave Cull is addressing this as we speak.

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