A select group of Shoalhaven City Council staff are poised for a pay rise well above the award rate.
The wage rise, costing ratepayers millions per year for at least two financial years, is set to be implemented in May.
Staff who pushed for the increase argued it will improve morale, quality of staff intake and the performance of certain council departments.
On Tuesday night at an extra ordinary council meeting, a majority of councillors backed a staff recommendation to increase overall annual employee costs by four per cent.
At present, wages, including superannuation, cost council $71.4 million per year.
The matter was raised at a confidential meeting in November. The business paper was leaked to Fairfax Media, and the matter was brought into the public’s guise. There was an outcry via Facebook when news broke that council was considering staff pay rises.
Shoalhaven Councillor Bob Proudfoot has been doing all in his power to prevent it from happening.
He said council was using an “archaic” development application processing system, which needs to replaced before council increases its spend on staff.
“I would rather arm our people with the best system available so we can process DAs as effectively and accurately as possible,” Cr Proudfoot said.
“My phone runs hot from people who’ve put DAs in, and 12 or 18 months later they’re still waiting.
“It’s all to do with the system and processes we have. Wollongong has a streamlined system, we don’t have to reinvent the wheel, we can find out what are the best planning systems in the state, and give our staff the best. Our community deserves the best.
“If that (high-tech system) was already in place, I’d be more likely to support the wage rise.”
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Cr Proudfoot was also concerned funds from the special rate variation would be channelled towards the wage rise.
“Who pays for this wayward approach to productivity problems?” he said.
A majority of Shoalhaven City Councillors passed the recommendation (below) at an extra ordinary meeting on Tuesday afternoon.
Cr Proudfoot has been garnering support from his colleagues to lodge a rescission motion, which would stall action on the recommendation and potentially prevent its implementation.
1. Support in principle a review of council’s salary system under the terms of the Local Government (State) Award to make it more contemporary and competitive.
2. Authorises the general manager to negotiate with relevant unions and the Staff Consultative Committee to establish a new salary system and introduce other monetary and non-monetary benefits to attract and retain staff in the organisation.
3. Authorises the general manager to negotiate changes in a staged approach commencing May 1, 2019 and over the 2018-19 to 2020-21 financial years with the overall increase capped at the equivalent of a 4 per cent increase in annual employee costs (excluding annual increases as prescribed by the award and already budgeted for).
4. Note the funding options presented in the report and receive a further report in relation to a recommended funding strategy in conjunction with the outcome of the general manager’s negotiations.
FOR: Crs John Wells, Patricia White, Greg Watson, Amanda Findley, John Levett, Annette Alldrick, Nina Digiglio, Kaye Gartner
AGAINST: Crs Proudfoot, Mark Kitchener, Mitchell Pakes
ABSENT: Crs Joanna Gash, Andrew Guile