It seems every cloud has a silver lining, even during Covid.
Auckland Council’s Value for Money Committee was told on February 17 that Council had reduced its spending by $70.6 million at the end of last year and was well on its way to meeting its target of $90 million in budget savings for the 2021/22 financial year. General manager of financial and business performance Nicola Mills said however, it was becoming more challenging to find efficiency improvements.
“For instance, we saved $30,000 by mailing fewer rate notices,” Mills said. “But most of the savings have come from lower operating costs under Covid restrictions.”
In her report on the savings, Mills said the $6 million saved in the second quarter was achieved mainly because expenditure was less than what was planned due to cautious financial management, different ways of working during Covid-19 restrictions and delays in capital projects meaning consequential operating costs would start later.
As well, staff costs were less because vacancies had not been filled due to labour market conditions. There were some additional procurement savings achieved through contract negotiation.
A total of $1 million was saved from new ways of working under Covid-19 restrictions such as online Council meetings, which meant less catering and administration costs.
Cr Angela Dalton was concerned that finding savings opportunities was getting tougher every year.