Auckland Council has achieved 99 per cent—or $119 million—of the $120 million savings target it set in the Emergency Budget, with a further $12 million in savings achieved since February 2021.
“We are very close to delivering on our Emergency Budget commitment to reduce spending by $120 million and proving to Aucklanders we are moving towards a leaner and more efficient council. Now we must continue to focus on improving the essential services that Aucklanders rely on,” says Finance and Performance Committee Chair Councillor Desley Simpson.
Mayor Phil Goff says that the originally forecast $1 billion impact of COVID-19 on Auckland Council’s finances has made it essential for the council to increase the intensity of its value-for-money drive to achieve efficiency and effectiveness.
“The council has made good progress towards becoming a leaner and more efficient organisation that is better able to deliver value for money to ratepayers,” he says.
“This has been a challenging process through a difficult year, and I acknowledge all the staff and elected members who have been instrumental in helping to achieve these savings and efficiencies.
“We will continue to push the council to deliver cost efficiency while ensuring that we are able to deliver the services Aucklanders rely on and that our city needs to be world-class.”
Notable savings for the February – March period include:
- Professional services costs are also below budget, with more work being done in-house and some being postponed
- Staff costs are below budget with continuing recruitment controls and other factors
- We have saved $1.3 million in corporate property costs as we consolidate and sell office space.
- Travel costs are well below budget, with extra savings on top of the 50 per cent reduction made in the Emergency Budget.
Full-time equivalent (FTE) staffing levels will fall from 6470 at 30 June 2020 to between 6250 and 6350 by 30 June 2021.
Staffing levels as at January 2021 have declined by 432 since January 2020, but are not projected to fall to the previous target of 6000. This is due to a significantly higher level of public demand for core council services such as building and resource consenting, community facilities and venues than was expected at the start of the COVID-19 crisis, and the need to deliver critical shovel-ready infrastructure projects.
Building and resource consenting activity, which had been expected to fall by around 25 per cent, is currently tracking above pre-COVID levels. In addition, shovel-ready project investment and the New Zealand Upgrade Programme have accelerated some infrastructure programmes, meaning that further planned redundancies would put the delivery of critical infrastructure projects at risk.
This has not affected delivery of the $120 million of operating expenditure savings for the year ending 30 June 2021, which the council has nearly achieved, three months before the end of the financial year.