F..k, these job numbers don’t make sense’ Queenstown council boss

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Queenstown Lakes District Council’s chief executive admits a blunder in a restructure report – but says it’s not important.

A draft consultation document proposing a major council shake-up notes a proposed decrease of 80 actual employees, from 334 to 254.

The same table in the final document, signed off by council chief executive Adam Feeley last week, notes a much lower decrease of 39 actual employees, from 335 to 296.

The whopping disparity contrasts with a minimal change when the job decreases are calculated as fulltime equivalents. In the draft, it’s proposed council axes 41.82 FTEs. The final report notes 36.22 FTEs face the chop.

Initially quizzed on it last Friday, Feeley says the FTEs are accurate but something is “not right” with the ‘actual employee’ numbers.

“I don’t think it’s so much a mistake as counting something differently. But it’s ultimately unimportant – in terms of priorities, all staff who’ve been confirmed as having jobs now know that. All staff who don’t have jobs but can apply for jobs know they’re in that status.”

Asked if he’s saying that how report authors counted ‘actual employee’ numbers differed between the draft and final report, Feeley says: “It has to be.

“I sat down with the primary author, and said I’ve read the submissions and this is where I think we need extra resources. And in FTE terms it ended up being about four or five staff.

“To be honest … I’m dealing with a whole pile of other stuff, [the author’s] finalising job descriptions, it’s just like ‘F..k … that number doesn’t make sense’ but, we’ll figure it out,” Feeley says.

“I know we should correct it and when we have some time we will. When I say correct it, clearly we’ve counted things differently … it’s not right.”

Yesterday, Feeley managed to clarify the situation, releasing an email from report author Shirley Flaherty. Her email notes she inadvertently excluded council holiday park staff from ‘actual employee numbers’ in the draft which is why it blew out to a bigger decrease of 80.

“Holiday park staff are correctly included in both actual and FTE numbers in the final report,” she says.

Feeley reiterates the important number is the decrease in jobs calculated as FTEs as that indicates the salary difference – and his priority is ensuring staff know where they stand in terms of who has a confirmed job or not.

Council has begun a major campaign advertising to fill new positions, and Feeley says the selection process will ultimately determine council’s final actual employee numbers.

Feeley says some positions may not attract any successful applicants, while in others more than the required number could get the nod if the applicants are “absolutely brilliant”.

“Until we’ve gone through the selection, we won’t know how many staff have actually lost jobs.”
When releasing the final report into a new slimmed-down, integrated council, Feeley noted it’d affect more than 100 staff.

Feeley says: “What I mean by ‘affected’ is they don’t have any certainty that they’ve got a job. But at the end of this process there will be.”

Overall, the proposed changes in the $250,000 review are estimated to save ratepayers at least $2 million annually in the short to medium term, with longer-term savings expected.