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Consultation Over Proposal to Outsource Network Maintenance

Consultation Underway Over Proposal to Outsource Network Maintenance

Dunedin (Monday, 6 May 2013) – The Dunedin City Council is consulting with staff over a proposal to outsource its water and wastewater network maintenance.

A review of the Water and Waste Services business unit (WWS) has been carried out to look at ways to reduce costs to ratepayers while maintaining or improving service levels.

Key points of the proposal are:

• The DCC retains full ownership and control over the water and waste services network. The proposal would not affect service delivery or public accountability.

• The proposal to contract out network maintenance is in line with most other councils. About 75% of New Zealand’s water maintenance work is either contracted out or carried out by a Council Controlled Organisation (CCO).

• Annual savings of $300,000 to $550,000 are expected if all of the water and wastewater network maintenance is contracted out.

The outsourcing proposal was presented to affected staff last week. A consultation period with staff and unions is underway, closing on 4 June.

DCC Water and Waste Services Manager Dr Laura McElhone says, “I am aware this is a difficult time for staff, but the DCC has to consider whether there are better ways to deliver the services.”

Under the proposal, 30 staff would be transferred to the contractor on their existing terms and conditions of employment. The roles of two other staff would change, with redeployment options to be discussed. No redundancies are anticipated as a result of the proposed outsourcing.

In proposing an outsourcing model, the DCC is confident there will be interested contractors who can deliver the same or better service at lower costs, for reasons such as economies of scale. To ensure there would be sufficient interest from suitably experienced contractors, expressions of interest will be sought at the same time as staff are being consulted.

Dr McElhone says seeking expressions of interest at the same time does not mean a decision has already been made on the proposal. Rather it means the DCC Executive Management Team will have all the necessary information before making a final decision in June.

In September last year, the Council decided not to create a CCO for water, wastewater and stormwater. Following that decision, all elements of water and wastewater services were reviewed to identify opportunities for improvement. The review was carried out by the WWS management team, with support from an external industry expert.

Key findings included that the DCC was delivering required levels of service, but that costs were high compared to other New Zealand cities. Following on from the review, an overall process for change has been put forward. The proposal to contract out network maintenance is the first stage and a decision will be made in late June.

Water and wastewater services receive $44 million of rates funding annually and employ 98.2 FTEs.

What would remain in-house are all aspects of the network that ensure residents receive good quality drinking water. This includes operation and maintenance of the treatment plants and pumping stations, and all asset planning and investment decisions.

The only work to be outsourced would be maintenance relating to the water and wastewater pipes.

ENDS

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