Response from Councilregarding post-COVID service levels
[One thing that members have trouble understanding is that how with staff and resource reductions post COVID that Council can return to pre-COVID service levels?
Council’s services continued to be delivered at or close to normal service standards during COVID-19, except services forced to close due to health orders made by the NSW Government. Council’s 2021-22 Operational Plan and Budget provides for Council services to operate at pre-COVID-19 levels. The tables below show financial and human resources available to support Council services and projects.
A comprehensive community perception survey conducted in November 2020 showed very high levels of satisfaction with Council services during the 12 months prior to the survey.
In the spirit of transparency, members would like summary evidence of the service categories where staff and resources cuts have been made and an indication of pre-COVID service levels in a form that can be monitored going forward.
Neither cuts to staffing nor resources have occurred, and none are planned. Please refer to the tables below, which contain comparative financial information and staffing numbers to support this response.
Can Council assure the community that they will not use COVID induced financial responses as an opportunity to cut services and service levels?
Council has not used the need to exercise fiscal responsibility in response to COVID-19 to justify recommending reduced service levels and this is reflected in the 2021/22 draft budget and operational plan which is currently on public exhibition.
Can Council provide pre and post COVID (say 2 years either side) budgets, categeorised by service levels. If not, why not?
The tables below summarise two years of actual and two years of planned expenditure. The first table shows expenditure by Community Strategic Plan (CSP) outcome, the second table shows expenditure by expenditure type, while the third table shows budgeted full time equivalent (FTE) staff.
As you can see, there is no planned reduction of the total resources applied to achieve our outcomes. However, you may notice in the second table a change in budgeted expenditure for employee costs from 2020/21 to 2021/22. This is because Council’s budget for next financial year incorporates a more refined forecast of vacant staff positions, compared to previous years. The third table shows that although employee expenses will reduce next financial year to better reflect vacant positions, there is no intent to reduce the number of full time equivalent staff included in Council’s budget.