Council to Review Service Delivery

5 April 2013

The Wellington City Council has agreed to conduct a review of all work undertaken by CitiOperations and examine future possibilities for service delivery.

The review will examine the advantages and disadvantages of how the Council provides services to the community, including in-house models, external providers, shared services and Council trading entities.

The review was unanimously agreed at yesterday’s Extraordinary Council meeting that discussed the status of the Council’s CitiOperations unit. The Council also unanimously agreed to put a hold on outsourcing further infrastructure services such as graffiti removal and drainage inspections.

There was significant debate about contracts already out for tender. The majority agreed to include suburban street-cleaning and vegetation control in a comprehensive road corridor maintenance contract. The meeting discussed the most effective and efficient models for city services.

“The review that the Council unanimously agreed to clearly signals a more active role for elected members in decision-making about whether services are delivered in-house or contracted out,” said Mayor Celia Wade-Brown.

“While managers had in the past informed elected members of the staffing implications of some decisions affecting CitiOperations - such as the rubbish and recycling changes - we want those service delivery decisions to be explicit and under the control of elected members.”

“We have to act in the interests of the city and of ratepayers as well as staff. Officials advised that the financial risk of not continuing with the current tenders could exceed $1.6 million every year.

“In particular, the contracts discussed are for road corridor maintenance:

  • road maintenance
  • central-city street cleaning
  • suburban street cleaning
  • roadside vegetation.

“The Council has agreed that instead of three separate crews going along the same stretches of road, we plan to manage the corridor as a whole. This should be more effective and efficient. This is also the approach that now underpins subsidies from the New Zealand Transport Agency.

“We are committed to ensuring ratepayers get fair value for money, and we’ll continue to examine our levels of service, contracts and tendering processes.

“The Council must move to ensure good conditions and wages for workers through procurement policy, tender and contract negotiations regardless of whether a street cleaner is working for the Council, a publicly owned company like CityCare or a private company.”

Mayor Wade-Brown said the Council has for years run a mixed-model system - with many services run in-house by Council staff but many other services provided by contractors. Recently, the external WalkWise services were replaced by the directly-employed City Hosts.

“This is a pragmatic case-by-case approach to providing services to Wellingtonians. The big change today is that we want to have a bigger role in the big decisions - because we are ultimately accountable, as we should be."