Three council departments to experience job losses

A RESTRUCTURE at Coffs Harbour City Council meant a number of employees were told their positions would no longer exist or would be changed as a result of council's push towards cost-efficiency improvements.

Positions are being reviewed in the construction, maintenance and finance sections of the council. However, other departments will also see change in coming months.

Staff affected by the changes have the opportunity to apply for roles that have been created as a result of the restructure, the council said yesterday.

But under the changes there will ultimately be fewer positions across the organisation.

The move is part of a re-organisation of Coffs Harbour City Council's workforce and a number of executive positions have already been substantially thinned.

Coffs Harbour City Council general Manager Steve McGrath. Photo: Trevor Veale / The Coffs Coast Advocate.
Coffs Harbour City Council general Manager Steve McGrath. Photo: Trevor Veale / The Coffs Coast Advocate. TREVOR VEALE/ The

The restructure forms part of the council's Transformation to Sustainability, or T2S, project that began in early 2014 when consultants looked at how savings at the organisation could be made.

Council general manager Steve McGrath said the restructure accompanied other significant changes, including the recently implemented rate rise, which were required to meet long-term targets.

"Our view is that we couldn't ask the community to contribute more without first looking at ourselves to make sure we were operating as effectively as we can," Mr McGrath said.

"There will be impacts across the organisation - in some cases positions are abolished, in some cases there are no changes, and in others there are new positions created."

"All of that is linked to an overall goal of $3.2 million savings per year which is to be achieved by not impacting on the levels of services provided."

Mr McGrath said the T2S project was in line with the State Government's Fit for the Future reforms.

Earlier this year, the reforms required local councils to outline plans on how they would work towards long-term financial sustainability against a series of seven benchmarks.

Coffs Harbour City Council submitted a report detailing how it would meet all seven by 2019-2020.

Findings of the reforms are expected to determine the State Government's hand in moving towards contentious plans of forced council amalgamations.

While the independent review panel report has not recommended an amalgamation between Coffs Harbour, Bellingen, Clarence and Nambucca shire councils, it has been recommended the four councils form a regional joint organisation.

Mayor Denise Knight.
Mayor Denise Knight.

The State Government says JOs will deliver benefits to regional priorities, and has provided $5.3 million to get the new organisations up and running.

Local Government NSW president and Coffs Harbour Councillor Keith Rhoades was sceptical of the proposal, saying little information had been provided by the State Government and comparable initiatives were already in place.

"Technically this is what we've been doing through the Mid North Coast Regional Organisation of Councils, which is a very similar format," Mr Rhoades said.

Coffs Harbour Mayor Denise Knight agreed and said she was not convinced that forced amalgamations were off the cards.

"When you consider an area that stretches from Clarence to the north to Nambucca in the south the question is, how do you properly serve a community of that size?