The Bay of Plenty Regional Council spent $3.4million on consultants in the last financial year - but that’s less than the previous two years.
According to figures released to SunLive under the Official Information Act the regional council spent more than $500,000 less on consultants in the last year, compared with 2010.
Bay of Plenty Regional Council offices in Mount Maunganui.
It spent $3,924,753 in 2010, $3,444,660 in 2011 and $3,419,789 in the last year ending June 30.
Regional council CEO Mary Anne McLeod says consultant costs for the current year are expected to come in on budget and to be less than the previous financial year.
“I’m pretty sure that the budget has come down again for next year,”
“I’m pushing quite hard to get it down and council is pushing quite hard as well. I think what we will be looking for is efficiencies in terms of can we do more.”
The council hires consultants for a variety of reasons, to cover peaks in terms of staff demand, or to supply technical advice.
“Quite often we need technical advice and that’s where we tend to be using the technical scientists, the lawyers, those sort of people. It just doesn’t make sense to have them internally.
“We have had a lot of that in the last little while working on the lakes programme. Or you need a team working on it, not necessarily one person but a whole lot of skills coming together.
“We also tend to use them where we have a peak of work coming through where we don’t think it’s appropriate to bring in a permanent person.”
Consultants are hired to work in resource consent areas, pollution prevention, or when there is an influx of people seeking water consents by a statutory deadline.
Mary Anne also says consultants are hired when there have been council policy changes and council staff have to suddenly deal with a lot of work in a particular area.
“Often that’s rechargeable and we can get that money back,” says Mary Anne.
“The Rena did have a bit of an impact on us. We are still working with Government on that. We have managed to recoup a lot of our costs, but a lot still falls on us because of our responsibilities.
“Because we have got responsibility for navigation safety, even though what we were doing was way in excess of what we were normally doing, the exclusion zones and that sort of thing, it’s still considered our function so we are still in debate slightly looking at if we can recoup some of those costs.”
Consultants are also used where the council has to deal with larger long term issues, or reviewing longer term strategy programmes where an outside perspective can assist.
“They are quite useful to get a flavour you can’t get in the bay, or because you are embedded in the organisation – that’s where you need that more global national perspective - to get an outside view or to get some independence.”
The amount spent on consultants dealing with sustainable coastal management has increased from $55,800 in 2011 to $179,781 in 2012, partly due to the risk assessment review work of Tauranga Harbour.
Sustainable regional development work has increased from $247,747 in 2011 to $591,782 in 2012, with a large proportion of these costs reimbursed by various public agencies.
Corporate services consultancy increased from under half a million dollars in 2011, from $412,209 to $758,762 in 2012.
Mary Anne says some of this will be due to the three year cycle of preparing the regional Ten Year Plan, and covering for some staff vacancies.
More than 300 different suppliers were engaged by the council in 2010/11.
The following table identifies a list of consultants by activity for the last three years.
||30 June 2010||30 June 2011||Year to Date 2012|
|Governance & Accountability||$381,051||$234,799||$185,488|
|Sustainable Land Management||$150,417||$199,279||$132,146|
|Sustainable Water Management||$537,545||$205,088||$98,132|
|Sustainable Coastal Management||$99,357||$55,857||$179,781|
|Sustainable Air Management
|Sustainable Regional Development||$99,011||$ 247,747||$591,782|
|Rivers, Drainage & Flood Management||$623,575||$622,467||$251,941|
Consultancy costs by programme for the year ended 30 June 2011:
Governance Service: Rating review - $100,426.
Organisational Planning: Preparation of 10 Year Plan - $134,373.
Statutory Policy: Preparation of Regional Policy Statement, Coastal Environmental and District Plans - $200,077.
Non Statutory Policy: Lake Rotorua wetland feasibility study and intervention packages - $338,353.
Transport Planning: Preparation of transport improvement, impacts of regional growth and freight study reports - $186,706.
Recreation and Open Spaces: Cultural monitoring, archaeological work and meeting fees - $14,061.
MÄori Engagement: Iwi management plans - $61,459.
Communications: Backyard publication - $120,994.
Environmental Education: Resource development - $39,871.
Civil Defence & Emergency Management: BOP lifeline - $28,623.
Sustainable Land Management: Community support programmes - $53,304
Biodiversity: Kiwi management programmes - $44,786.
Biosecurity: Biological control programmes for wallabies and wild conifers - $101,188.
Sustainable Water: Regional groundwater and geothermal field management - $45,328
Rotorua Lakes: Land use strategies and wall monitoring - $159,760.
Sustainable Coastal: Archaeological work, communications assistance and resource management work - $7,693.
Maritime Operations: Port and harbour safety plans - $48,164.
Rotorua Air: Rating postponement policy and incentive campaign. Preparation of audits of suppliers - $239,093.
Resource Consents: Consultants engaged for consents - generally recoverable from applicant - $60,145.
Pollution Prevention: Contaminated site investigation - recoverable from the Crown -$92,048.
Natural Environment Regional Monitoring: Data and geothermal management advice -$12,667.
Tauranga Passenger Transport: Passenger service planning review - $30,785.
Regional Passenger Transport: Passenger service and best practices review - $41,810.
Regional Economic Development: Regional strategic development including aqua cultural, forestry development, and regional readiness report - $244,652.
Kaituna Catchment: $15,657.
RangitÄiki-Tarawera Rivers Scheme: Matahina Dam re-consenting reports and advice - $179,358.
WhakatÄne Waimana Rivers Scheme: $6,977.
Waioeka-Otara Rivers Scheme: $4,143
Engineering Advice & Non Scheme Works: Advice relating to ÅŒkere Gates, diversion options and flood forecasting - $416,334.
Land & Buildings and Vehicles: Advice on rent reviews and building valuations - $16,921.
Treasury and Rates: Investment advisory services - $88,779.
Finance: Tax compliance review and advice - $97,393.
Property & Procurement: Catering services and implementation of procurement system - $63,047.
Information Services/ Technology: Information technology consultancy - $50,029.
Human Resources: Remuneration policy and training plan development - $95,796.
Unbudgeted consultancy costs incurred for CV Rena work are being recovered from the Ministry for the Environment.
The BOPRC has 277,100 residents and spends more on consultants than the Waikato Regional Council with 390,000 residents – but neither is in the same league as the Greater Wellington Regional Council with 473,000 residents and a consultants’ bill last year of $22.1million.