Tauranga City Council is looking at ways to better use the city’s volunteers.
Volunteers carry out essential but invisible work in and around the city through a variety of different departments, while working under different rules and conditions.
Volunteers Sandy Oldfield and Mark planting at Motiti Reserve in Papamoa.
Council discussed future policy options at a workshop following the strategy and policy committee meeting on Tuesday.
The key outcome of the meeting was to look at ways to better organise the free resource that is worth hundreds of dollars to the city each year through the efforts of people freely giving their time to look after parks, gardens and the city’s museum collection.
Volunteers oversee the museum twice a week working a total of 1840 volunteer hours a year keeping the collection from decay – which if they were paid $20 an hour would cost ratepayers a total of $36,800 a year.
McLaren Falls Park benefits from the input of 14,000 volunteer hours a year, valued at $280,000 on the same $20 an hour basis.
But the council has admitted to having no knowledge of volunteers overall worth to the council, the amount of staff time and resources involved in organising them, and there is no reward policy for thanking volunteers for their work.
“We could do so much more than what we are already doing it’s just a matter of tapping into the community need to do things,” says strategic planner Cheryl Steiner.
“Sometimes all the policy we need is to say, ‘yes’,” says councillor Bill Faulkner.
Council expressed concerns about a council ‘volunteer department’ resulting from the policy but councillor Larry Baldcok says if savings were there, such a department could be well justified.
Staff are expected to report back to the council in a couple of months.