EXCLUSIVE: Gympie council staff bill has exploded to $40M
A CREEPING staff wage has become a significant problem for Gympie Regional Council and could continue to until at least December next year.
Figures reported by the council reveal employee costs for the council have surged from $29 million in 2013-14 to $40 million in the 2018-19 financial year.
This $11 million surge came despite the number of full-time equivalent employees increasing by only 50 in that time, from 447 to 497.
Employee costs include staff and councillor wages, sick and annual leave and superannuation.
The problem has been accelerating, too.
Figures show $7 million of the $11 million surge occurred between 2016-2019, despite staff levels remaining entirely unchanged at about 500.
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The staff bill for the 2020-21 financial year is forecast to be $41 million.
And staff wages are only likely to squeeze the council's coffers further; under the terms of the enterprise agreement signed last year, staff were given an annual increase of at least 2.85 per cent in 2018, 2.75 per cent last year, and 2.75 per cent this year.
The agreement expires in December next year.
In comparison Australia's average wage grew only 1.8 per cent last year and has not been above 2.5 per cent since 2015, ABS data shows.
Gympie Regional Council CEO has been asked for comment.