A message from the Mayor
On behalf of my fellow Councillors I would like to thank you all for the support you have given us at election time. We enter a new and exciting time in the history of Kaipara. To those who stood and missed out also a thank you for being prepared to take on the role, please stay involved.
We began our role formally on the 25th when we were sworn in. We dedicated that day to meeting senior Council staff and had a great session on how we would work together. The following day was also spent on induction and in the afternoon had presentations from Don Elliot and Andrea Hemmins from the Dargaville Museum followed by Peter Boyd from the Dargaville Business Forum.
Monday was spent in Maungaturoto following a similar theme. We spent the morning understanding the workings of Council and the afternoon learning from our various community groups. In Maungaturoto was Don McKay from the Community Trust and Lisa Tolich, CE of the Kauri Museum.
Any group who would like to present to Council could you please contact Sean Mahoney at firstname.lastname@example.org or call Council.
Our collective aim is to spend quite a number of days between now and the Christmas break understanding Council and our communities so that we can begin the new year "match fit"!
Peter Wethey, Mangawhai, is my Deputy Mayor. I will value Peters experience. Also being a resident of Mangawhai Village will assist to ensure a strong link between east and west. Initially there will be two sub Committees of Council, Audit, Risk and Finance (ARFC) and a Remuneration and Development Committee (RDC). I am very pleased to advise that Richard Booth (ex-Commissioner) will Chair the ARFC for a period of twelve months. There are two reasons for this appointment, firstly I would like to "institutionalise" having a non- Councillor as Chair of this Committee and secondly it will assist us in the transition from Commissioners to Councillors. Richard will be paid at the same rate as a Councillor would be to do this job. The fee was agreed by the Remuneration Authority at $ 5,371 per annum. The key function of the ARFC will be to spend time looking at the finances of Council to have high level of detail, overseeing both the statuatory audit and any internal audit work, developing the risk matrix for the business of Council and overseeing our various treasury functions (borrowings in our case).
We have also agreed the outside responsibilities as follows Raupo Drainage Committee- Greg Gent Taharoa Domain Governance - Andrew Wade, Greg Gent Mangawhai Community Park Governance- Anna Curnow, Peter Wethey Harding Park/Tu Te Rangi- Karen Joyce-Paki, Victoria Del La Varis-Woodcock Funding Committee -Jonathan Larsen Sport Northland Board-Libby Jones Regional Transport-Julie Geange.
All Councillors have submitted to me areas that they see that they will need development in.
Individual plans will then be put in place and overseen by the Remuneration and Development Committee. For all of us training will be ongoing, its a fast changing world!
I met the Minister Louise Upston in Wellington soon after the election and we had a very good discusion around this role. Its an initiative that I strongly support . Our reality is that most on Council have had no Local Government experience and our Chief Executive (CE), Graham Sibery likewise is from the private sector. Barry Harris has been appinted to the role. Barry has been the CE of a number of Local Authorities so has great experience that we can draw on. I have worked with Barry some ten years ago and rate him highly. He is there for us if needed, will attend some, but not all meetings and will always be available to both Councillors and Managament. It is important to note that he has NO decision making powers.
Peter Winder one of our Commissioners will fill this role. His responsibility is to deal with the various litigation that Council is involved in. He does have decision making power and does not need to refer to Council either around his decisions or the costs that will be incurred that Council has to fund. He will however keep us updated as necessary. From a personal perspective I very much look forward to putting this chapter in our history behind us. It’s been expensive for ratepayers even though we have been successful. The future needs to be our focus now.
During the election a number asked me about the sharp lift in Council staff numbers. Back when I chaired the Review of Council some 4 years ago my memory tells me KDC had around 50 staff. Today we have double that number. The reason.... back then virtually all Council services were contracted out, including, in some areas, overseeing the contractors. That has been changing and will continue to do so. Our roading team is a good example. Back then we had 1.5 people "in house". Today that number is 12, being a mix of people from qualified engineers to administartors. Roading is the single largest expense item Council has and its largest function. I couldn't think of many business operations that would contract out their core function,that is largely because knowledge needs to be retained within the organisation not within contractor organisations, to retain market power. Although it’s not a good enough reason on its own, it does also ensure KDC employs a greater number of locals.
On Sunday I attended a celebration lunch, alomg with Councillors Andrew Wade and Anna Curnow, at the Coronation Hall to recognise the completion of a large project at the Cemetery. This is an amazing example of what a community can do with a visionary leader and a lot of innovation. I would like to acknowledge Des Subritzky for the huge effort he put into this. I suspect Shirley, his wife's effort was very little less. In total between work in kind and donations a circa $70k project was done with no outside help. Well done to all those in the wider Te Kopuru area including a lot of past residents.
Our first full Council meeting will be held in Mangawhai on the 9th of November followed by the 13th December in Dargaville.
Greg Gent: Mayor