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Jobs slashed from Deniliquin Council

A structural review of Deniliquin Council approved only last week has already seen three jobs cuts, on top of four left vacant in the last 12 months.

ZOE MCMAUGH February 8, 2013 4:46am

Three jobs have been slashed from Deniliquin Council in a structural review that was only announced last week.

Deniliquin Council labelled the redundancies ‘‘the first phase of the restructure’’, but would not confirm whether there would be any more job losses.

Deniliquin Mayor Lindsay Renwick quashed speculation that there would be another two employee redundancies this week.

General manager Des Bilske confirmed the review would continue over a number of months, ‘‘looking for more efficiencies and savings within all departments’’.

He said it could mean more job losses, but said there were no ‘‘specific plans’’ for more ‘‘at this stage’’.

The three redundancies are on top of four positions left vacant in the last 12 months at Deni Council, none of which will be filled by new staff, Mr Bilske confirmed.

While not finalised, he estimates the saving to council to be in excess of $500,000.

Mayor Renwick supported the move and reaffirmed his confidence in the general manager’s ability to ‘‘do what is best for council operations’’ and ‘‘for the ratepayers of Deniliquin’’.

‘‘Councillors have given Des the sole job to do what he needs to do.

‘‘We have told him he has got to make it (council) work and be efficient.

‘‘I don’t want the minister sending someone down (to Deniliquin) to knock on council’s door and say ‘here’s an administrator come to run your show’.

‘‘Council is facing financial hardship and our councillors are fully supportive of attempts to reduce operating expenditure so we can put ourselves in a stronger financial position.’’

Council staff were notified of the restructure on Thursday morning last week.

The Pastoral Times believes each of the three employees made redundant this week were given the option to stay on at council for a set period of time, but chose to leave immediately.

Cr Renwick said reducing expenditure where possible would also assist in making money available for other essential ratepayer services.

Mr Bilske said it was important that a business the size of Deniliquin Council was constantly monitoring and reviewing its operations to ensure it maximised the benefit of ratepayer dollars.

‘‘The organisational restructure was appropriate at this time,’’ he said.

‘‘This is the first phase in an ongoing strategy to review council’s operating expenditure and make savings where they are appropriate, without jeopardising the services we provide for our residents.’’

An audit report from the 2011/12 financial year shows council has a surplus of $1.4 million, but both auditor Brian McCleary and Mr Bilske agreed more savings were needed to ensure council continued to increase its income.

Cr Renwick said the restructure was just one way council would do this, adding Mr Bilske had the support of all councillors.

‘‘The councillors, a few in particular, are very solid in saying they came to council to see some sort of restructure take place.

‘‘My sole purpose as a councillor is to try as hard as I can to work for the ratepayers. One of the things I cannot do is to deal with staff issues.

‘‘It (removing jobs) is a difficult call and Des is only doing what he has been given permission by council to do.’’

Of the seven positions to go over the past year, three were executive positions, two were professional positions and two operational positions. The Pastoral Times was able to contact two of the three redundant council employees and both declined to comment.

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