Quarrie queries big staff revamp

The Manawatu District Council has revealed the cost of the redundancy packages paid out to staff members during the organisation's recent restructure.

Eleven staff received redundancy payouts collectively worth $271,500 after the restructure process, which involved 37 positions being disestablished and 44 new roles being created.

Council chief executive Lorraine Vincent sought approval for the payment at yesterday's council meeting in Feilding.

Approval was granted but not without debate about why the discussion should be held in secret.

Cr Andrew Quarrie wondered why it was necessary for the council to initially exclude the public before later declaring the figure.

He also said after the meeting he could not understand why there were seven new positions.

"We had never been told prior to the Annual Plan that there were any glaringly obvious deficiencies in the operations of the council. Surely, with that many new positions, we must have had some earlier issues."

The restructure also resulted in another $167,000 being added to the operating budget for the 2014-15 financial year.

Quarrie told the Manawatu Standard he was appalled at how the restructuring was presented to the council.

"There was no full and frank discussion, just a brief with some figures put on a whiteboard in the evening after a long day of Annual Plan submissions. I have an issue with the cost and lack of consultation. I don't think the process and amounts were transparent."

Quarrie also expressed his disapproval during the signing off of the Annual Plan about how the restructure was handled.

He voted against the acceptance of the plan as his way of expressing these concerns.

He also abstained from voting at the extraordinary meeting discussing the Annual Plan submissions.

Cr Wayne Ellery disagreed with Quarrie's views.

"This issue [of restructuring] belongs to the CEO - it is a staff issue. I believe we are transparent. The CEO has been upfront from start to finish."

Mayor Margaret Kouvelis said the old structure was under-performing and it was difficult to make the organisation as responsive as it could have been.

She has said previously: "Of course we support the restructuring."

Editorial, P14

Manawatu Standard