Rockhampton council staff costs eclipse roads budget
A COUNCIL'S most visible services may be its roads, parks and waste management but Rockhampton council spends more on staff than those three categories combined.
In the 2015-16 budget, Rockhampton Regional Council set aside $72.8 million for employees and $54.4 million for waste, parks and roads combined.
But in Livingstone council, a $30 million road spend in the 2015-16 budget meant staffing was not the council's biggest expense for the year.
Livingstone followed a similar trend to Rockhampton in 2014-15, budgeting $28.5 million on staff and $22 million on roads, waste and parks.
The councils' spending habits are far from unusual, with staffing costs a major expense for most Queensland councils.
Rockhampton Mayor Margaret Strelow said operational wages were less than 35% of expenses but the council was one of the largest employers in the region.
She said each region had different demands when developing their budgets, noting the extra considerations Rockhampton had.
"Many other councils don't run their airport or do their own garbage collection," she said.
"This year's figures also show the extra staff hired to clean up after Cyclone Marcia."
Councillor Strelow said the council had worked to reduce staffing costs, noting 60 positions were made redundant immediately after the last election.
"In the four years since 2012 there has been a very significant reduction in staff," he said.
"And council made some tough decisions at the recent de-amalgamation and reduced our staff significantly and brought our budget back into a surplus position."
She said the decisions were aimed at keeping staffing costs low.
Livingstone Shire Council acting CEO Chris Murdoch said the size of the council area made a large workforce a necessity.
"Council is one of the major employers in the region and services a population of 36,000 and growing, over an area of more than 11,800sq km," he said.
"As a relatively new organisation, council is continuing to balance the optimum structure required, particularly with the continued recovery from the devastating effects of Tropical Cyclone Marcia and the large number of key infrastructure projects planned, including the proposed $53 million revitalisation of the Yeppoon Foreshore."
The spokesman said since de-amalgamation the council in 2014 had already cut about 40 full time equivalent positions.
- APN NEWSDESK