Shire-employee_1615South Gippsland sits in the middle for numbers of staff employed and wages paid when compared to other shires, but how does the pay and conditions of admin staff and managers stack up against the pay for similar roles in the local community? Perhaps municipal salary packages are too high right across the state.

HALF a position; that’s all the South Gippsland Shire CEO Tim Tamlin has been able to cut from his workforce of 261 (EFT) staff members after conducting a comprehensive review of all positions.
Despite detailing four areas which are applying the blowtorch to shire income, Mr Tamlin said the changes proposed would not trim one single cent from ‘Employee Costs’ of $24.126 million in the 2015-16 budget, still up almost $1 million from this year.
Savings as yet unknown, he said, would flow in subsequent years.
The local ‘cuts’ are a far cry from what has been achieved at Baw Baw where seven jobs have been scrapped and 35 positions made redundant, off-set by the creation of 28 new positions.
Asked by the Sentinel-Times if he thought ratepayers would view the net loss of 0.5 of a position, after such a wholesale review, as “some kind of joke”, Mr Tamlin agreed that was possible but assured those interested that it would lead to savings and a better outcome for the community.
The proposed structure, he said, reduces the number of directors and managers, sees a number of new positions created and several current positions removed.
Mr Tamlin said: “This is not a cost cutting exercise. It is to strategically position the organisation to take advantage of our changing operating environment. The new structure will be supported by further developing staff, embracing new technologies and enhancing systems and processes to increase productivity and the effectiveness of council’s services.”
“The proposed structure will support me in delivering greater operational value to the ratepayers and better support the council in meeting community needs.
“Through this process I have already consulted with many staff and union representatives to ensure the objectives are understood and that opportunities for feedback are provided.
“The next step is to continue consulting with staff to make sure nothing has been overlooked and that we have aligned our functions appropriately to ensure best service delivery.
“I need input from everybody to achieve the best outcome for the organisation and our community.
“For some individuals affected, this may be a difficult time. We will be offering the appropriate support and guidance during the transition.”
A staff consultation process will run for three weeks with the structure being finalised in approximately five weeks, he said.

Starts at the top
Speaking to the ‘Sentinel-Times’ he said 13.5 positions had been scrapped and 13 new positions created, offering the opportunity for some affected people to be redeployed but resulting in upwards of four redundancies.
“As part of the changes we are reducing the number of directors’ positions from four down to three.”
Director Corporate Services June Ernst loses her position but will be given the opportunity to redeploy to a lesser role.
“The positions of all 18 managers and coordinators who report to the directors have been reviewed and we will be retaining nine managers. Some coordinators’ positions will no longer be required.”
He said there had been various other little changes proposed as well in a review that considered every position at the council.
Mr Tamlin also acknowledged the pressures on the shire’s budget.
“The request for a review has come from the community. They want to know what everyone is doing and why we need all those staff members to do it. They want more from less and don’t want to pay more in rates.”
He said:
• The State Government had announced rate capping
• The Federal Government had put a freeze on grant funding
• And there was more cost-shifting to local government.
“The council wanted to reduce the rate rise from 5.5 per cent to 4.9 per cent so we had to take $280,000 out of the budget.”
Mr Tamlin said the staff appreciated the pressures and 10 per cent of them had come forward with ideas for savings.
“We took those ideas and added input from the directors and came up with a proposal for change.”
Mr Tamlin said savings would be used to invest in systems and processes which would support the new structure while also investing in the workforce by up-skilling them.
“This sets us up for the future,” he said, but acknowledged that the business of operating a local council wouldn’t be easy if rate capping and other reductions in income continued.