Councillors coy on big restructure

Manawatu's elected representatives are keeping tightlipped on their thoughts about the district council's restructure, which resulted in a bigger staff payroll.

This month Manawatu District Council began operating under its new regime, following a review that disestablished 37 positions but created 44 new ones - of which 27 have been filled by internal appointments. Meanwhile, 11 staff took redundancy.

Chief executive Lorraine Vincent said she could not provide projected costs for the redundancies and additional staff because recruitment had not yet been completed. The redundancy expenditure was to be discussed at today's council meeting during a publicly excluded session.

Mayor Margaret Kouvelis said all would be revealed when the review was completed. She said there would be some impact on the Annual Plan, due to be adopted this week. "Of course we [the council] support the restructuring," she said. "We set the direction for it as a council prior to the last election."

Kouvelis said the council set key performance indicators for the chief executive as it wanted a responsive and agile council that could deal with changes facing territorial authorities.

"I am feeling hugely positive about it. This organisation hasn't altered for 25 years and yet the functions it is required to form have altered. We want to get the best operation we can to deliver the best service to our customers and ratepayers."

Most councillors contacted by Fairfax Media did not wish to comment on the restructure. Cr Albert James said he was not aware of costs associated with the restructure but was always concerned about how the council spent ratepayers' money.

Deputy mayor Tony Jensen said there was a clear distinction in the responsibilities of the governance team and the chief executive, and to comment on aspects of Vincent's re-organisation would be to "cross the line".

"I have great faith in Lorraine Vincent's abilities and integrity, and I am confident in leaving her to do the job we have empowered her to do."

Manawatu Standard