Cost-cutting delays council work

SCHEDULED roadworks, construction projects and mowing have been placed on hold because Newcastle City Council does not have the manpower or the money, according to the city’s latest budget report.

The quarterly budget review for December cited a hiring freeze and ‘‘funding constraints’’ as reasons for growing delays to infrastructure maintenance work.

The document will fuel further discussion about the  impact of imminent plans to bring the city’s budget back into surplus.

Councillors will be shown proposals next week. The Newcastle Herald understands various scenarios will be laid out for councillors to consider, including cutting staff and service levels.

Throughout the entire process, council general manager Phil Pearce has warned that any decision to trim aspects of the council’s administration would make it harder for the city to deliver services.

Mr Pearce, who announced his resignation last month, says in the budget review documents that recent staffing decisions had delayed works.

Those decisions, announced in October, included a hiring freeze, cuts to casual labor and cuts to unscheduled overtime.

‘‘Impacts to service levels from the staff freeze for roads maintenance has seen extensions to current scheduled maintenance for mowing, pothole patching and minor works,’’ Mr Pearce said.

‘‘Impacts have also resulted in delays to completion of some construction projects, with adjustments made to commencement dates for the remainder of the construction program.’’

Road resurfacing works that were planned for Newcastle, Newcastle East, Cooks Hill, Hamilton South and Hamilton have all been ‘‘deferred due to funding constraints’’.

Information technology projects were also under-resourced, Mr Pearce said.


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