Tagged: appointments

Community development meeting (3 November)

The Golden Bay Recreation Facility (construction progress).

The community development committee meeting was held on 3 November 2016. Apologies were received from Cr Brown and Cr Hawkes. All other councilors were present.

The agenda included: (1) Chair’s Report, (2) Golden Bay Shared Recreation Facility Management Contract, (3) Appointments to Management and Other Committees, (4) Community Development Manager’s Report, (5) Action Sheet.

Declarations of interest

Cr Wensley declared a conflict of interest (due to her involvement with copyright licensing for writers) and took no part in the discussions relating to council’s draft submissions on the National Library Strategic Direction consultation document and the National Strategy of Environmental Education for Sustainability (Attachments 3 and 4 of the Agenda).

Public forum

Maxwell Clark spoke. He advised that council was still advertising public forum speaking times as 3 minutes, rather than the new 5 minutes – which he commended council for. He noted that grafitti was getting worse (particularly near Waimea rugby club, the skateboard park, and rifle club – all located in close proximity to one another). Mr Clarke also noted that the gravel road that runs from McDonalds (located on lower Queen Street) towards Jubilee Park (along the railway reserve) was in a dreadful state with numerous pot holes – these needed to be repaired.

Golden Bay Shared Recreation Facility Management Contract

Council resolved to receive the report and for council to enter into a management contract with with Golden Bay Shared Recreational Facility Committee Incorporated (see www.societies.govt.nz/), to manage the Golden Bay recreation facility on behalf of council. A similar management arrangement is used at other community facilities (eg Moutere and Murchison recreation facilities).

The above plan is noteworthy for the clear absence of the Grandstand. However, it’s also interesting to note the above construction progress picture, and in particular the large space between the old grandstand and the new facility (separated by a fence). Apparently the (northern) stairs were removed to allow the builders to work safely on the new building, as well as protect the public from the building activity. Yet the picture appears to show a fence between the two buildings – showing more than enough space for stairs and a safe working environment? I understand that the removal of the stairs for public safety is now justified on the basis of the grandstand’s uncertain condition.

In my opinion, council should dispose of the grandstand to the A&P Society – then it’s no longer a council concern (or ongoing cost). Yes, its presence might be unsightly, but what would you rather look out over – a carpark or a piece of history? Although, surely the most reasonable compromise is to move it – so its at least preserved. That way everyone is a winner (rather than just the lawyers). But perhaps thats just the mediator in me speaking?

Appointments

Council resolved to make the following appointments to community (based on the mayor’s recommendations):

Moutere/Waimea Ward

  • Brightwater Recreation Reserve Committee: Cr King

  • Dovedale Recreation Reserve Committee: Cr McNamara

  • Spring Grove Recreation Reserve Committee: Cr McNamara

  • Moutere Hills Recreation Reserve/Community Centre Committee: Cr Turley

  • Waimea West Recreation Reserve Committee: Cr King

  • Ngatimoti Hall Management Committee: Cr McNamara

  • Wakefield Recreation Reserve Management Committee: Cr King

  • Ngatimoti Recreation Reserve Committee: Cr McNamara

  • Equestrian Trust Board: Cr Maling

  • Wakefield Health Centre Board: Cr Bryant

  • Mapua Health Centre Board: Cr Turley

  • Pinegrove Trust: Cr King

Richmond Ward

  • Hope Recreation Reserve Committee: Cr Maling

  • Keep Richmond Beautiful Committee: Cr Tuffnell

  • Richmond Unlimited Committee: Cr Tuffnell

  • Saxton Velodrome Working Party: Cr Wensley

  • Digital Enablement Plan Steering Group: Cr Wensley

Lakes/Murchison Ward

  • Murchison Recreation Reserve Committee: Cr Bryant

  • Stanley Brook Recreation Reserve Committee: Cr Bryant

  • Tapawera Recreation Reserve Committee: Cr Bryant

  • Lake Rotoiti Community Facility Committee: Cr Bryant

Community Development activity report

Highlights from the manager’s report include:

  • Golden Bay Community Recreation Facility: General work (including netball courts) was progressing. A draft archaeological assessment of the Takaka grandstand, and a heritage report covering human activities associated with the grandstand, along with council’s application, was sent to Heritage New Zealand. A “certificate of public use” was being sought for the new building to enable it to be used for the A&P Show towards the end of January 2017.

  • Golden Bay Museum: The Museum had raised funding and obtained all the consents for the Whalery building extension. Council is project managing the project for the Society. The building contract was around $90,000. Staff advised that there would be no impact on rates from the extension as the over expenditure was covered by increased income in the account. The contractor was also undertaking some building repairs at the site, including repairs to the roof to stop some leaks, provision of emergency lighting, and replacing the switchboard.

  • Nethui: A significant partnership occurred between Council and Internet NZ – the organisation responsible for the New Zealand Domain Name registration system. As a result, Nethui (the country’s ‘largest and most diverse’ internet event) was hosted in our region on 13 October 2016 – the first time the hui has been hosted outside a major centre.

  • Website: Usage for the website (1 October 2015 to 31 September 2016) remains strong. The website serves approximately 600 people per day and in the last year attracted nearly a third more users, with page views also up 7.49 %. GoShift building consent forms will be added to the site. Civil Defence website upgrade project work continues.

  • Reserves: For Richmond, (1) mountain bike track maintenance is being undertaken in the Dellside reserve areas, and (2) the Velodrome underpass and ramp installation has been completed, the lean to ride area is under construction and stage 2 of the main track is starting.

  • Growth strategy: Staff workshops are currently underway to determine future demand and supply for residential and business growth in each of our 16 settlement areas. Council workshops will be coming. The growth projections council selects (effectively a conceptual tool for planning) will have major implications for the long term plan (LTP) and its projected expenditure (which then has implications for debt and rates). I’d like to adopt a more conservative position – of moderate growth, given the level of uncertainty. While Tasman has experienced a degree of population growth, it appears to be tailing off, with most of the new growth coming by way of retirement (with often means growth for retirement villages). In my opinion, if growth occurs in this area, it’s likely to put far less demand on infrastructure – which would support a moderate growth forecast. However, I suspect that those supporting the dam, will want to see council adopt a high growth position, in order to inflate water demand.

  • Age care policy: This is under review to ensure alignment of age policies and initiatives with Nelson council.

  • RFID Installation: Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology was installed across the libraries during October 2016. Service desk areas in Richmond and Motueka Libraries have been reconfigured to allow for the installation of self-service kiosks. Library users now have the option of issuing their own items.

  • Consultation on National Library Strategic Direction: Tasman District Libraries works with the National Library in a number of ways, either as a user of National Library services or as a consortia partner. Any changes to National Library policies or strategic direction could have an impact on our libraries.

  • Richmond call centre upgrade: An upgrade to call centre software was completed. The enhanced caller information, reporting dashboards and staff information is expected to improve service levels.

  • Takaka Service Centre: Staff move back to the refurbished building on 9 December. In my opinion, this should have been consolidated within the existing library building. However, it was explained by staff that the cost of special data cabling to the library would have been more than the cost of refurbishment. Another option was to rebuild – which was rightly rejected by council.

  • Richmond Aquatic Centre: Patronage increased from July to June 2016 by 3,277. An increase of 1,245 compared to the same period in July 2015.

  • The Enviroschools Programme: This continues to expand. Golden Bay Kindergarten recently became TDC’s 4th Enviroschool at the GreenGold level demonstrating more connections with their community in their practices and projects. However, in my opinion, I question whether council should be involved in this project given the ongoing financial pressure on council. And I wonder if it should be suspended, so that funds can be redeployed to more pressing infrastructure concerns.

  • Conflicts of interest: This was discussed. The CEO asked councillors to rely on the advice given through the councillor induction process. He said he would be concerned if councillors were overly cautious and declared a conflict of interest when it was unlikely that one existed or could be perceived, as that would limit their ability to contribute as a member.

For more information about “conflicts of interest”, see www.oag.govt.nz/2007/conflicts-public-entitieswww.dia.govt.nz/diawebsite.nsf/wpg_URL/Resource-material-Our-Policy-Advice-Areas-Managing-Conflicting-Interests-in-Local-Government?OpenDocument, and www.iod.org.nz/Governance-Resources/Publications/Practice-guides/Conflicts-of-Interest-Practice-Guide.

Agenda and minutes

The agenda and minutes are located at http://www.tasman.govt.nz/council/council-meetings/committees-and-subcommittees/standing-committees-meetings/community-services-committee-meetings/?path=/EDMS/Public/Meetings/CommunityServicesCommittee/2016/2016-11-03.

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Full council (27 October) – appointments and easter trading

A full council meeting was held on 27 October 2016. All councillors were present.

The agenda included: (1) committee structure, (2) appointments, (3) annual report 2015-16 adoption, (4) Easter Sunday trading, (5) remuneration, and (6) Local Government Fund AGM.

Public forum

Public forum was attended by Joanna Santa-Barbara, Fran Deech, Iona Jeff, Murray Dawson, and Maxwell Clarke.

Joanna Santa-Barbara requested council oppose deep sea prospecting and briefed council on Co2 limits and capacity to stay under a 2 celsius increase.

Fran Deech (and Iona Jeff) asked for council to make submissions to government on behalf of concerned residents expressing concerns about the proposed Taranaki basin zone. She explained that exploratory drilling could occur within 10km of Tasman coastline. Fran suggested the Rena disaster was a possible outcome for Tasman? She asked if council was prepared. Asking for submission to govt expressing concerns.

Murray Dawson asked council to undertake an organisational review, as one was well over due. He also raised concerns about water flow data being presented to councilors, which he suggested was incorrect.

Maxwell Clarke congratulated councillors on their appointment. He congratulated council on providing 5 minutes speaking time, but asked that the clock be returned to the chamber so speakers are able to monitor their speaking time. Maxwell asked that the makeup of standing committees be reviewed. He also suggested that council review the appointment of advisors, in light of the Mapua debacle.

Committee structure

A proposed committee structure was presented to council for adoption by the mayor. This new structure sought to reduce the four standing committees (reflecting the four departments of council) to three standing committees (Community development, Engineering, and Environment) with the fourth former standing committee (Corporate services) being retired.

Those sub-committees (ie Audit and Risk, Commercial, and CEO review) that reported through to the former Corporate services committee, would now report directly into the full council. Accordingly, these three sub-committees would be reclassified as “council committees”.

The structure is illustrated below.

See also www.tasman.govt.nz/council/council-structure/committees-and-subcommittees/.

Appointments

As expected, the mayor remained true to his election campaign and has kept to the same path – reappointing the same “remaining” long established councillors to the primary expenditure portfolios (ie engineering, environment, commercial), under the mantra of “experience”. The fact a number of councillors are highly experienced professionals and business people appears to be conveniently over-looked, in order to justify the desired outcome.

This is disappointing, but not surprising. Its quite obvious that the mayor is working hard to preserve his influence (and culture) over council decision making, by ensuring key positions continue to be filled by the old guard. This has even extended to re-appointing a former councillor (Cr Higgins) to the NRSBU for 12 months as a paid advisor. As I said during the election campaign, until council gets new leadership, the culture within the governance group will not change to the degree the majority of the public want. In my opinion, it is never a good look, for former councillors (or the council), to be in paid roles, when they have not been elected by their community.

For a council still working on getting out of the financial chaos of the preceding nine years (under the Mayor’s first three terms), I remain to be convinced that these appointments will deliver the outcome the community want – more progress on reducing debt and rate charges.

In contrast, the new mayor of Wellington city council (WCC) Justin Lester has replaced “experience” with councillors who have shown a drive, expertise, and intellectual capacity to make a positive difference to the portfolios they have been given (see www.wellington.scoop.co.nz/?p=93643). In effect, giving a number of portfolios a well needed shake-up. For example, one long term councillor (Cr Foster) who has lead the critically important transport committee in Wellington for over a decade was replaced with a newly elected councillor. Experience is only one element (amongst many others) to a successful appointment.

Nelson city council (NCC) is also embracing succession planning, placing new councillors in deputy roles or in chair roles supported by experienced deputies. That is a good sign of healthy governance, succession planning, and leadership. A council planning for the future, rather than clinging to the past.

In my opinion, the danger of appointing long established councillors, is they are less likely to challenge current thinking – as they are often susceptible to being captured by the organisation they are suppose to be governing. If you don’t like change, then these are all good appointments. But in my opinion, its very healthy for an organisation to have a periodic shake-up. Telecom (now called Spark) use to do it quite regularly. Had we had some new leadership, I suspect we probably would have got it.

Interestingly, Cr Maling was not appointed to any key portfolios. This in my opinion, was a massive missed opportunity. Cr Maling has shown he has the experience to make a massive difference. One only needs to look at the Waimea Village u-turn in performance. So to Cr Tuffnell, who has years of business experience that could have been called upon in the commercial portfolio (although I don’t share his enthusiasm for traffic lights!?).

I am not alone in my thinking. In the public forum Maxwell Clarke mentioned that he was hopeful that councillors who might challenge existing portfolio’s would be appointed. Sadly, this does not appear to have happened.

Of course criticism could be laid at councillors for not challenging these appointments. However, I believe, it is for the mayor to make appointments and to put their stamp on the council. After all it is the mayor’s vision (or lack of one) that people often vote for (or against).

In my opinion what is needed is a task force approach that shines a light on each department and questions not only structure (how we are doing things), but activities (why we are doing things).When was the last time a task force was commissioned to seek out cost saving opportunities? Why hasn’t the mayor ever sought to initiate one?

Finally, unlike the previous term, where councilors came together early in the process to outline their vision (and bond), new councilors have not been given that early opportunity to unite on common values and objectives. This has resulted in the leadership team having time and room to set the agenda (and path), rather than councilors.

For example, last term Judene Edgar was put forward by councillors as a candidate for deputy (although she subsequently turned it down, appearing to favour an airport directorship instead). Last term councillors also met for a workshop on what they wanted to achieve. This term, councillors did not have the opportunity to discuss who they might have wanted as deputy, nor their own aspirations. Leaving the mayor to make all the recommendations – and for councillors to approve them in the absence of any other recommendations, or the time to share opinion.

I have raised my concerns with the mayor  about the absence of a councillor lead workshop to set the direction for council. He continues to reassure me this will happen. Although I suspect well after the decision making infrastructure is locked in.

Appointments

The following appointments were made:

Mayor: Richard Kempthorne (as elected).

Deputy: Cr King.

Standing committees

  • Engineering services chair: Cr Bryant (deputy Cr Sangster)

  • Environment and planning chair: Cr King (deputy Cr Brown

  • Community development chair: Cr Canton (deputy Cr Wensley).

Council committees

  • Audit and risk chair: Cr Ogilvie (plus Cr Brown, Cr Greening, Cr King, and 1 independent member)

  • Commercial chair: Cr Sangster (plus Cr King, Cr MacNamara, Cr Ogilvie, Cr Wensley, and 3 independent members).

  • CEO review: Mayor, Cr King, and Cr Brown.

Subcommittees

  • Community grants chair: Cr Canton (plus Cr Wensley, Cr Turley, Cr Hawkes, and Cr Sangster)

  • Community awards chair: Cr Canton (plus Cr Turley, Cr Hawkes, and Cr Sangster)

  • Creative communities: Cr Wensley, Cr Turley, and Cr Canton.

Joint committees

  • Joint shareholders (chairs of standing and council committees): Mayor, Cr Tuffnell, Cr King, Cr Canton, Cr Bryant, Cr Ogilvie.

  • Nelson Regional Sewerage Business Unit (NRSBU) chair: Cr Maling (plus independent member Michael Higgins).

  • Civil defence: Mayor and Deputy mayor.

  • Regional pest control: Cr Bryant, Cr Brown, and Cr MacNamara.

  • Land development manual steering group. Cr Bryant and Cr King.

Other committees

  • Tasman Regional transport chair: Cr Bryant (plus Cr Maling, Cr MacNamara, Cr Ogilvie, Cr Sangster, and 1 NZTA member).

  • District licensing chair: Cr Ogilvie (plus Cr King and 3 independent members).

  • Tenders panel: Cr Bryant, Cr Tuffnell, Cr Maling, and CEO.

Community representatives

  • Accessibility for all: Cr Wensley

  • Friendly towns: Cr Tuffnell, Cr Canton

  • Iwi liaison: Mayor, CEO

  • Mapua water and wastewater business case working group: Cr Bryant, Cr King, Cr McNamara

  • Mapua waterfront advisory committee: Cr King

  • Motueka airport advisory group: Cr Canton

  • Native habitats: Cr Ogilvie

  • Nelson-Tasman business trust liaison: Cr Tuffnell, Cr Maling

  • Nelson-Tasman cycling trust liaison: Cr Canton

  • Positive ageing: Cr Wensley

  • Port Tarakohe advisory group: Cr King, Cr Sangster

  • Regional TB free: Cr Bryant

  • Richmond bridge and croquet club liaison: Cr Greening

  • Richmond transportation business case working group: Cr Bryant, Cr Tuffnell, Cr Greening,

  • Takaka airport advisory group: Cr Sangster

  • Tasman bays heritage trust appointments committee: Mayor, CEO

  • Tasman environmental trust liaison: Cr Tuffnell

  • Tasman regional sports trust: Mayor

  • Tasman youth council: Cr Canton, Cr Turley

Easter trading – first round

One of the first major issues to confront the new council was the potential introduction of easter trading. In my opinion, I could not fathom why staff (or the mayor) would be keen to introduce a major policy initiative so early into the new term of council, that would have resulted in consultation having to be conducted over the Christmas break. But here we were.

Background

By way of background, the government had recently amended the Shop Trading Hours Act 1990 to enable councils to decide whether retailers in their districts could open for business on Easter Sunday. This effectively shifted a rather controversial political issue (and associated consultation costs) from central government to local government. According to the Act, territorial authorities could create local policies to allow shop trading on Easter Sunday across their entire districts, or limited (specified) areas (see www.mbie.govt.nz/info-services/employment-skills/legislation-reviews/easter-sunday-shop-trading).

Its important to note that the Act (section 4) already allows gardening shops and shops selling certain types of goods (examples include dairies, service stations, take away bars, restaurants and cafes, and duty free stores) to remain open on Easter Sunday. Some tourist areas throughout New Zealand also have exemptions to open on Easter Sunday. For example, Nelson City holds an exemption for craft trading at Founders Park when it is open. See www.legislation.govt.nz/act/public/1990/0057/latest/DLM212351.html.

The Act also has implications for employers and employees. Employers who want employees to work on Easter Sunday must advise the employees that they have the right to refuse to work. This must be done by notice in writing between 4 and 8 weeks of the Easter Sunday (or in the case of a shop employee whose employment with the employer started 4 weeks or less before the relevant Easter Sunday, as soon as is reasonably practicable after the shop employee’s employment with the employer starts).

Employees who intend to refuse to work on an Easter Sunday are required to inform their employer by a notice in writing no later than 14 days after they receive the notification from their employer (or as soon as reasonably practicable after the employee receives notice if their employment started 4 weeks or less prior to the relevant Easter Sunday). The emplpoyee does not have to give a reason for refusing to work on Easter Sunday.

The employer must not treat the shop employee adversely because the shop employee refuses to work on an Easter Sunday. If an employer treats an employee adversely because the employee refuses to work on an Easter Sunday, or compels an employee to work on an Easter Sunday, the employee now has grounds to raise a personal grievance against the employer.

Employees would also not be entitled to a day in lieu or additional remuneration, should they choose to work on Easter Sunday. Easter Sunday is the only day that is a restricted trading day, but is not a public holiday. Under the Holidays Act 2003, employees are not entitled to any additional payment for working or not working Easter Sunday.

So, even if an Easter trading policy was put in place, there is no guarantee that a business would have staff available to be open.

Policy implementation

Staff recommend that before a decision was made whether to adopt a policy (or not), council should first undertake an informal (low cost) community survey to gauge community opinion. Staff proposed to report back to the Council on 1 December 2016 with the survey results and a Draft Policy for consideration as to whether to proceed to formal consultation.

If council decided to consult (on 1 December), staff recommended that an Easter trading policy be put in place for Easter 2017. For that to happen the following time frames would need to be met: (1) an informal community engagement period (3-17 November 2016); (2) the council considers community feedback and whether it wishes to release a Draft Easter Sunday Shop Trading Policy for public submissions (1 December 2016); (3) draft policy open for submissions for two months (December 2016 – February 2017); (4) hearings and deliberations (late February 2017); (5) staff amend Policy as per hearing panel instructions (March 2017); and (6) council adopts final Policy (before 19 March 2017).

In support of council consulting on an Easter trading policy, staff reported that Marlborough District Council had already adopted a draft policy that permitted shop trading on Easter Sunday throughout the entire Marlbourough region. However the drive for urgent adoption (for Easter 2017) had much more to do with the Omaka Air Show – an event that happens at Easter every 2 years (see www.marlborough.govt.nz/Your-Council/Shop-Trading-Policy.aspx,

www.marlborough.govt.nz/Your-Council/~/media/Files/MDC/Home/Your%20Council/LocalEasterSundayShopTradingProposal.pdf).

From my own research, I noted that Rangitikei Council had also entertained consultation on easter trading (see www.rangitikei.govt.nz/council/consultation/easter-sunday-shop-trading-policy, www.rangitikei.govt.nz/files/general/Consultation-Documents/Statement-of-Proposal-Local-Easter-Sunday-Shop-Trading-Policy.pdf).

Defer consultation – a proposed amendment

In my opinion, the entire process – an informal consultation (online survey) and the formal consultation (a statutory process), should have been deferred until 2017. At that point, council could then decide whether it wanted to consult (informally or formally, or both) or not to proceed at all.

My reasoning for deferring consideration was: (1) kicking off this process now was premature, given many other more pressing issues council needed to deal with; (2) staff were apparently already under work load pressures (at least according to staff), and adding more consultation work this year, seemed to me, poor management – better to spread the consultation workload than intensify it; (3) moving this process to 2017 meant there was no risk of consultation occurring over Christmas (assuming council decided to consult); and (4) councillors were still finding their feet, so rushing consultation on a controversial issue was probably not a good idea.

Councils are often criticised for giving lip service to public consultation. Far better to have a reasonable amount of open (and transparent) public consultation on this issue – given the fact the government had been hesitant to step in themselves. Waiting an extra year also gave council the benefit of seeing how other councils drafted policy and engaged, and whether there were any teething issues.

Given the public have been waiting for a government decision on this issue since 2002, I was confident that the public could wait another 12 months.

While I noted my concern about staff spending time on preparing a draft policy in advance (that might not proceed to public consultation, due to lack of public support), I was open to staff preparing such a draft. This was because a draft policy document should not take long to assemble, given staff could utilise drafts already prepared by other councils.

Accordingly, I proposed an amendment (seconded by Cr Canton) to defer consideration of this issue until 2017. Unfortunately, the amendment was lost (Cr Canton and myself in the minority), and staff were instructed to undertake an informal survey to inform councillors at the next full council meeting on 1 December, whether to proceed (or not) with formal consultation.

Annual report

The 2015-16 annual report and summary annual report were received and unanimously adopted by council. Councillors Brown, Hawkes, Maling, McNamara, Ogilvie, Tuffnell, Turley, and Wensley abstaining on the basis they had no involvement in preparing that annual plan.

The delayed adoption of the annual plan (at the end of the previous term of council) was principally due to a delay in the adoption of the Nelson Airport financial statements, due to the Auditor General querying the revaluation of the Nelson Airport assets (ie, land), which had been revalued on the basis of “fair value” (according to the new accounting standard).

Remuneration

The remuneration authority sets the remuneration for each district and regional council (under statutory declaration). The current rates are:

Mayor

$132,378.00

Deputy Mayor

$47,470.00

Standing Committee Chairperson

$43,819.00

Committee Chairperson

$40,168.00

Councillor

$36,516.00

Motueka Community Board Chair

$13,872.00

Motueka Community Board member

$6,936.00

Golden Bay Community Board Chair

$12,444.00

Golden Bay Community Board member

$6,222.00

See Local Government Elected Members (2016/17) (Certain Local Authorities) Determination 2016 www.legislation.govt.nz/regulation/public/2016/0158/latest/DLM6880662.html?search=ad_regulation__certain+local+authorities_2016___25_an%40bn%40rc%40dn%40apub%40aloc%40apri%40apro%40aimp%40bgov%40bloc%40bpri%40bmem%40rpub%40rimp_rc%40ainf%40anif%40bcur%40rinf%40rnif%40raif%40rasm%40rrev_a_aw_se&p=1#DLM6880666

Agenda and minutes

The agenda and minutes are located at www.tasman.govt.nz/council/council-meetings/committees-and-subcommittees/standing-committees-meetings/full-council-meetings/?path=/EDMS/Public/Meetings/FullCouncil/2016/2016-10-27.

Media

www.nelsonlive.co.nz/2016/10/tasman-council-finances-improving/

www.nelsonlive.co.nz/2016/10/councils-seek-views-on-easter-sunday-trading/

www.stuff.co.nz/nelson-mail/news/85864969/pay-rates-rise-for-tasman-district-councillors

http://tdcme.nz/easter-sunday-trading/2016/

Full council (20 October) – a new council inducted

The first full council meeting on the new term was held on 20 October 2016. All councillors were present.

Standing orders

The agenda outlined the main rules that regulate councillors participation around the council table, including: revised standing orders and code of conduct. Minor corrections were made to both tabled documents.

Cr Wensley raised a question about the quorum of elected members at meetings and moved to change the standing orders to insert the word “being” (in para 10.1(a) and (b)) and require at least 2 elected members at any committee or sub-committee meeting, rather than just one (in para 10.2).

In effect, this codified the practice to date – as at least 2 elected councillors are usually appointed to every sub-committee. For example, last term of council, Cr Ensor and Cr King were appointed to the commercial subcommittee. The CEO advised that 10.2 reflected the law and that council had dealt with quorum matters through the terms of reference. However there was nothing preventing council changing standing orders instead. The amendment was unanimously supported by council.

Voting system

The agenda also provided councillors the opportunity to select the voting system for deputy mayor and committee chairs. I advocated for councillors to support an STV (singe transferable vote) system rather than FFP (first past the post) system. My reasoning was we already had a minority mayor and it was important to ensure there was majority support for the deputy. It also would motivate new councilors to stand for the deputy or chair positions. The mayor opposed STV on the grounds FPP was used during the election and should be used to elect the deputy.

By majority (Cr Hawkes and myself dissenting), the FPP system was carried.

Community boards

Council unanimously appointed Cr Canton, Cr Hawkes and Cr Ogilvie to the Motueka community board, and Cr Brown and Cr Sangster to the Golden Bay Community board. Cr Hawkes election to council has resulted in a by-election for the Motueka community board.

Interestingly, only one candidate (former councillor Barry Dowler, who is seeking to return to local government politics after being defeated in local body elections) is standing for the Motueka Community Board. Unfortunately, the media’s recent beat-up about the cost of holding a by-election ($30,000) does not put potential candidates off. Although I fear thats exactly why it’s being talked about. To put cost into perspective, council is already committed to spending between $13,872 (chair) to $6,936 (member) per annum, on whoever is elected?

Getting only one candidate standing in Motueka is a very disappointing result for democracy – especially given the talent that is available in that community. Hopefully, someone from the next generation will put their name forward and give residents a choice.

Agenda and minutes

The agenda and minutes are located at: www.tasman.govt.nz/council/council-meetings/committees-and-subcommittees/standing-committees-meetings/full-council-meetings/?path=/EDMS/Public/Meetings/FullCouncil/2016/2016-10-20.

Media

Nelson Mail (20 October 2017) www.stuff.co.nz/nelson-mail/news/85574312/New-look-Tasman-District-Council-takes-office

Nelson Mail (10 October 2017) www.stuff.co.nz/nelson-mail/news/85122976/eight-fresh-faces-feature-in-newlook-tasman-district-council

Nelson Live (27 October 2016) www.nelsonlive.co.nz/2016/10/new-women-councillors-get-to-work/

Nelson Mail (17 November 2016) www.stuff.co.nz/nelson-mail/news/86586240/Ex-councillor-Barry-Dowler-to-stand-in-Motueka-Community-Board-by-election

Nelson Mail (9 December 2016) www.stuff.co.nz/nelson-mail/news/87365860/Motueka-Community-Board-by-election-could-cost-up-to-30-000

Full Council Meeting (31 October)

At the start of my campaign I undertook to provide an open diary to ensure that there was greater transparency of council activities for the benefit of the general public. Clearly not everything can be discussed in this blog as some issues are subject to confidentiality. Accordingly, what follows is a summary of my notes and opinions of discussions around the council table  that were open to the public.

Todays Council Agenda

A full Council meeting was held today. The agenda comprised:

  • declarations by Cr Murfin and Cr Dowler who were not present at the inaugural council meeting;
  • two submissions from the public;
  • consideration of amendments to standing orders;
  • the establishment of council committees and the appointment of councillors to specific roles;
  • confirmation of the delegated authority register (allowing spending to specific thresholds by designated staff);
  • confirmation of councillors remuneration and expenses entitlements;
  • proposal to employ four new staff;
  • the CEO’s activity report; and
  • other various administrative matters

All councillors were in attendance, with Cr Higgins sending apologies.

To keep this post short, I have summarised the main items that took up most of the councils time ,being: public submissions, council appointments, and a proposal to appointment four new staff.

Public Submissions

The first public submission highlighted concerns with the cost of the lee valley dam and appointing 4 new staff when many councillors and mayoral statements made during the election undertook to reduce debt and keep rates down.  The submission did not think a legal advisor and commercial manager were a necessary expense given the commercial committee already comprised business people. The submission also highlighted the need to ensure public committees like the Waimea plains committee comprised individuals with different viewpoints to ensure robust discussion of issues. Finally, it raised the ethical and moral issue of the previous council making directorial appointments that bound the new council. The suggestion being that the new council should make such an appointment.

The second public submission highlighted the consent costs the public incur and the hoops applicants are expected to jump through.

Council Appointments

The mayor recommended the following appointments, which were not contested. Chair positions and directorships receive additional remuneration on top of base councillor salaries.  A chair position receives an additional 20% loading on their base salary.

Base remuneration is as follows: Mayor ($123,850), Deputy Mayor ($41,210), Councillors ($31,700), Motueka Community Board member ($6,000), Motueka Community Board chair ($12,000), Golden Bay Community Board member ($5,500), Golden Bay Community Board chair ($11,000).

The committee appointments are:

  • Community development committee: Cr Edgar (chair), Cr Bouillir (deputy), and all other councillors.
  • Engineering services committee: Cr Norris (chair), Cr Dowler (deputy), and all other councillors.
  • Corporate services committee: Cr King (chair), Cr Higgins (deputy), and all other councillors.
  • Environment and planning committee: Cr Bryant (chair), Cr Ensor (deputy), and all other councillors.

The sub-committee appointments are:

  • Audit: Cr Higgins (chair), Cr Greening, Cr King, Cr Inglis, Cr Sangster.
  • CEO review: Mayor, Cr Edgar, Cr Ensor.
  • Community awards: Cr Edgar, Cr Bouillir.
  • Development contributions: Cr Norriss, Cr Ensor
  • Communications: Cr Edgar (chair), Cr Bouillir, Cr Bryant, Cr Dowler, Cr Greening.
  • Community grants and facilities: Cr Bouillir (chair), Cr Bryant, Cr Canton, Cr Edgar, Cr King.
  • Creative communities: Cr Bouillir (chair), Cr Murfin
  • Commercial: Cr King, Cr Ensor and business directors (Alan Dunn, Phil Grover, Roger Taylor).
  • District licensing: Cr Ensor (chair), Cr Bryant (deputy) plus 3 members (David Lewis, Laurence Gabites, Jean Hodson).
  • Tenders panel: Cr Norriss, Cr King, Cr Edgar, CEO.
  • Joint shareholders: Mayor, Cr King, Cr Bryant.
  • Nelson Regional Sewerage Business: Cr Higgins, Cr Dowler.

Directorships are:

  • Nelson Airport Ltd: Appointment deferred to the next full council meeting ($15,000 annual fee).
  • Port Nelson Ltd: Cr King (appointed by previous council, $30,000 annual fee).

Four New Staff

Much of council’s time was spent discussing the merits of the four new staff appointments. The proposal from council was to use unbudgeted income of $170,000 to finance the roles up to 30 June 2014  (being the start of the next financial year for council budgets) and thereafter paid out of additional annual costs of $340,000. Council was unanimous that the two accounting roles (one fixed for a 2 year period) were justified given the financial planning focus of council over the next three years.

More controversially, was the appointment of a part-time  legal advisor (0.5 fte) and a commercial manager to support the commercial subcommittee (see above). The part-time legal advisor position was promoted on the basis of cost savings and the commercial manager on improving information going to the commercial committee and facilitating role between businesses and council.

Cr KIng and Cr Ensor gave spirited arguments for having a commercial manager on the basis of the income opportunities and improved information the position would offer. As did the Mayor. I believe the timing is not right to engage such a role. I pointed out that the commercial sub-committee’s terms of reference appeared to be the same as the commercial manager’s purpose. If we are hiring directors with business acumen, why are we paying for a commercial manager to perform a similar function. I believe existing council staff can provide the sub-committee the necessary financial data without creating another role. In my opinion, the commercial sub-committee directors who are paid well for their participation and employed for their ability to identify opportunities to improve the performance of council assets. They should be identifying the business opportunities and assembling the business cases for them, not the commercial manager.

After much discussion a resolution was drafted to employ all four staff. The legal advisor role was to be paid from an existing budget for contracting lawyers from 30 June 2014. Similarly, the commercial manager will be financed from the councils current salary budget from 30 June 2014. However, from the date of employment until 30 June 2014 those salaries will be paid from the unbudgeted income.

After further discussion, the resolution to employ new staff was modified by adding a request for information of the cost neutrality or savings from the two appointments. Unfortunately, due to the vote being rushed by the Mayor, an amended resolution that deferred both appointments from 30 June 2014 (thus ensuring that all the unbudgeted income could be directed to debt repayment) could not be made. The resolution appointing all four staff was passed. I voted against the resolution as worded, because I felt that the legal advisor and commercial manager positions should have been deferred until 31 June 2014 when they could be funded from existing budget streams.

On further inquiry, I was also told that I could not propose a resolution to amend this oversight. Some other councillors left the chamber somewhat dismayed that the resolution had appointed 4 new staff, as they had thought they would be deferred until after additional information requested by council had been provided. The outcome is that some of the unbudgeted income was saved (in particular, dividend income from the Nelson Airport), which can now be directed to debt repayment. But alas, not all of it.

This was the first test of our council’s resolve to reduce spending, reduce debt, and keep rates down. I’d give it a C+, “must try harder”.