Greater Geelong Chief Executive Officer Martin Cutter
Why are staffing costs rising by $14.5 million next financial year to $199.41 million?
Total staff costs, as outlined in the Budget papers, will not be increasing by $14.5 million over the next financial year. To ensure consistency when making a year-on-year comparison of an organisation’s finances, it is appropriate to compare actual cost versus actual cost, or budgeted cost versus budgeted cost.
Staff costs were budgeted to be $193.12 million in 2021-22, and are budgeted to be $199.41 million in 2022-23. This is an increase on the previous year of $6.29 million. The expected actual staff numbers and costs were significantly lower than expected in 2021-22 due to the ongoing impacts of COVID-19 restrictions on our level of service across areas such as leisure, recreation, arts, culture and events.
As a result, we are now expecting that once the actual figures are finalised, staff costs in this financial year will be more than $8 million under budget. The 2022-23 financial year is expected to see a return to more regular levels of staffing requirements, after the easing of COVID-19 restrictions.
Why does council need an average of 100 more FTE staff in 2022-23 compared to 2021-22?
When comparing this year’s Budget with last year’s, we find that there has been a minimal reduction in staff numbers between the two years. The budgeted figure in 2022-23 is 1827.7 FTE – a reduction of 11.5FTE on the previous year’s forecast of 1839.2 FTE staff.
Staff numbers have been lower than forecast in 2021-22 due to the ongoing impacts of COVID-19 restrictions on our level of service, across areas such as leisure, recreation, arts, culture and events. We are expecting our staff numbers to return to more regular levels in 2022-23, in line with our services and facilities returning to capacity following the easing of Victorian COVID-19 restrictions. Greater Geelong is one of the fastest growing regions in Australia, so there is some growth required across different sections of the organisation to meet the demands of new development areas.
What benefit will ratepayers get from increased staffing at council?
The Council is investing in the largest capital works program in its history over the 2021-22 and 2022-23 financial years. Capital works expenditure for the 2022-23 year is proposed at $206.5 million. This huge program will help stimulate the region’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, meet the demands of continued population growth, support local jobs and encourage private investment.
We are delivering more than 130 services to the community, maintaining and upgrade more than $3 billion worth of assets and transitioning to carbon-neutral operations through a range of sustainability initiatives.