Council's thinking big in Orange with more staff and two surplus councillors

COMPARISONS: Orange City Council has been sized up in the  Comparative Information on NSW Local Government report.

COMPARISONS: Orange City Council has been sized up in the Comparative Information on NSW Local Government report.

FIGURES released by the state government on Orange City Council have revealed it employs more people to provide fewer services.

The Comparative Information on NSW Local Government report, released on Monday, compared regional town and city councils based on 2012-13 figures, including Orange, Bathurst, Dubbo, Lithgow and Mid-Western Regional councils, in addition to other councils of similar size across the state.

Orange exceeded the group average for the number of councillors, with two more than the average.

The group also averaged 312 full-time equivalent staff members, however Orange employed 348. 

Orange’s figures also reflected a lower population per staff member, with 115 residents for each full time position, in comparison to 125 for the group average.

At $157.77 per capita, the council did spend less on governance and administration than the group average of $266.44, however it also spent less per capita on environmental and waste expenditure, water and sewer services, library services, roads and footpaths, and public order, health and safety.

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It also provided fewer public facilities, with one pool compared with the average of three, three public halls compared to 13, one public library compared to three and 594 hectares of public space compared with the group average of 946 hectares.

However, it led the field in community services, education, housing, amenities, recreational and cultural expenditure, spending an extra $138.70 per capita on the group average.

According to Orange Ratepayers’ Association member Dennis Mead, staff salary expenditure had increased from $21 million in 2009-10 to $31 million in 2013.

“Things like building inspections are outsourced, so you’ve got more people doing less work,” he said. 

“The figures speak for themselves.”

Orange City Council spokesman Allan Reeder said the figures provided a valuable report card and staffing levels were comparable with councils of a similar size. 

“The differences in the comparisons under the heading of public facilities are about comparing the city of Orange with local government areas such as Dubbo and Bathurst, which include a large rural area with a number of other towns,” he said.

danielle.cetinski@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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