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16 February, 2022

Councillor questions impact of new management roles

Toowoomba Region Councillor Nancy Sommerfield voiced her concerns about the potential impact of a glut of new, high-paying management roles on front line services at the Council Finance and Business Strategy Committee meeting.

 Cr Sommerfield said she was looking through the employment data for the Toowoomba Regional Council (TRC) when she noticed this marked increase in managerial roles over the past three years.

She said she was initially concerned with the increase in staff departures, which sits at over 90 permanent staff leaving in the last six months, but soon came across the management data.

“What I did discover…is an increase in the number of these leadership positions,” Cr Sommerfield said.

“I wasn’t aware that Council had made any strategic decisions to increase supervisor or leadership positions apart from the new SDR (Service Delivery Review) branch – which everyone knows I voted against anyway.”

Cr Sommerfield said the new branch, now named Business Transformation and Strategy, originally concerned her because it required more leadership roles to function.

However, she is now worried that the trend towards a “top heavy” Council is more widespread and is becoming part of the culture of the organisation.

“Since January 2018, just four years, Council has increased the number of these positions by a net of 12, according to the data. Seven additional managers, six additional principals,” Cr Sommerfield said.

“What is concerning to me is in the creation of 12 new positions, is that it is also the higher paying positions that have increased in number.

“Councillors will recall last year we were given figures in relation to managerial position remuneration. So, it’s big numbers we are talking about, not crumbs.

“Hence these new and upgraded positions equate to higher costs incurred.

 “But to me it could also mean reduced services due to reduction in baseline staff and more management.

“That same top heavy organisational structure I talked about when Council was considering the new SDR branch from the top end of our organisation.”

Cr Sommerfield said Councillors were not informed of this increase in management roles as part of typical staffing reports.

She said she had to request additional data which revealed these concerning figures.

This is not the only staff issues Council is experiencing at the moment with a staff turnover of over 13 per cent (above the target of 10 per cent) and ongoing recruitment issues resulting in 175 vacant permanent positions.

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