City of Fremantle senior staff will take a 20 per cent voluntary pay cut to help combat the serious financial impacts on the City of the COVID-19 crisis.
Chief Executive Officer Philip St John has announced that he, directors and managers had all agreed to cut their salaries as part of the City’s response to a forecast $6 million loss in revenue between now and the end of the financial year.
Mayor Brad Pettitt and Fremantle councillors have also agreed to voluntarily reduce their allowances by 20 per cent.
City of Fremantle staff employed in areas that are currently unable to operate at full capacity because of COVID-19 will work reduced hours or take leave.
Essential local services such as waste collection, community safety, infrastructure maintenance, customer service and street cleaning will continue to operate as normal during this time.
Mr St John said the devastating effect of the coronavirus on Fremantle businesses and residents was having a similar impact on the City.
“Like the rest of our community, the City is feeling deeply the economic effects of COVID-19,” Mr St John said.
“A large proportion of our income – about one third – comes from parking fees, commercial rent and other charges. These revenue streams have pretty much disappeared overnight.
“As a consequence, we expect to lose around $2 million in revenue a month between now and 30 June. As with any household budget, the only way to cope in an environment of drastically reduced income is to reduce spending.
“To date we have tightened our belts by putting a freeze on recruitment, we’ve reviewed all operating and capital budgets to find immediate and possible savings, and we’ve called in all our contracts to see how we can modify, postpone or cancel all but essential expenditure.”
Mr St John said temporary new working arrangements were currently being negotiated with staff to ensure service delivery remained unaffected in areas where residents needed the City most.
Staff in areas where service delivery could not continue as a result of state or federal government COVID-19 restrictions, such as the leisure centre, would either be redeployed or asked to take leave.
“We’ve discussed these actions with the unions, and while they have been the hardest decisions we’ve ever had to make they were made in the best interests of both the City and the community,” Mr St John said.
“This will enable the City to ride out the economic impacts of this crisis, maintain our essential services, and to provide capacity to support our community during the recovery.
“Our staff have been fantastic in responding to the challenges of COVID-19 and continue to do a terrific job. Unfortunately, to ensure we can navigate what further challenges may lie ahead, these are the steps we all have to take.”
Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt called on other levels of government to be more mindful of the serious impact that COVID-19 was having on local councils.
“It’s disappointing that local governments have been excluded from the Commonwealth’s JobKeeper program,” Mayor Pettitt said.
“Councils like Fremantle are being asked to substantially cut revenue through freezing rates, free parking and other measures, but we are also being asked to maintain expenditure – the biggest of which is salaries.
“This is unsustainable without federal and state support.”