Staff costs at the Shire of Augusta-Margaret River have jumped $1.1 million in 12 months despite an ambitious slate of programs and statements that the finances are in their best shape for years.
Recently tabled comprehensive income figures for the 2011-12 financial year showed total employee costs were $11.761 million, up from $10.67 million in 2010-11.
Staff costs were also $215,000 above that budgeted for the past financial year.
Shire chief executive Gary Evershed said despite the $1.1 million jump, evidence showed cash reserves were at their highest for some years and external auditors had given Shire finances a tick of health.
“Financial performance reporting prepared by local government financial consultant Ron Back over the past four years indicates that the Shire of Augusta-Margaret River is steadily improving its financial position and performance,” Mr Evershed said.
“The annual wages bill is in accordance with Budget estimates which is a great achievement.
“More activity was undertaken with the same amount of staffing.”
The CEO said the current financial year would see a five-year wages agreement expire that had guaranteed 5 per cent annual increases.
“This has been made difficult to manage as rate increases which were based on 8 per cent per annum under the previous administration have been reined in due to the (global financial crisis),” Mr Evershed said.
“Hopefully a more sustainable long-term wages structure can be implemented through the review of the enterprise agreement.”
The Shire was developing a fouryear workforce plan starting from the end of the 2014 financial year and negotiating with employees on their new enterprise agreement now.
Shire president Ray Colyer told the Times the wages agreement was a big factor in the staff costs.
“I think the CEO’s on record that in future its not going to be as lucrative as the last one,” he said.
Further increases included a need to transfer the Shire’s casual workforce onto the full-time roster, particularly across Shire-run caravan parks.
Mr Evershed said the wages expenditure was not excessive considering there were additional staff to oversee Shire programs and building projects, with those costs recouped through either WA Government funding or offset by fees.
The Shire’s annual report shows 15 staff on salaries greater than $100,000, with eight falling within the lower bracket below $120,000 and three between $140,000 and $149,000.
Mr Evershed earns between $220,000 and $229,000 including benefits.