Councillors bristle over attendance

TRACY NEAL
Last updated 13:00 24/04/2013

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Nelson City councillors have bristled at the release of figures which show how many committee meetings they have attended in nine months to the end of March.

Out of a possible 32 committee and subcommittee meetings councillors had the option of attending, Derek Shaw is a high scorer on 24, while Jeff Rackley has attended nine meetings, according to the attendance register from July 1, 2012, to March 31 this year. Mr Rackley would not have been expected to attend at least 10 of the total 32 meetings, such as subcommittees dealing with remuneration review, joint shareholder matters or regional transport.

Councillors were not expected to attend meetings where they did not belong to the committee, but could do so of their own accord.

Mr Rackley, who was not at yesterday's governance meeting at which the item was discussed, told the Nelson Mail he was currently incapacitated with his leg in a cast and asked that the information not be made public.

Council chief executive Clare Hadley released the information in a public agenda and said the information had also been the subject of two requests under the Official Information Act.

Mr Rackley, who like other councillors receives $33,452 a year in ratepayer-funded salary, blamed his low attendance on outside work commitments.

"The only reason is that I'm a busy person."

He attended nine committee meetings and attended part of two more during the period.

When asked if he thought other councillors were equally as busy, he replied that some were and others were not.

"I didn't realise it was as low as you've made out," he told the Mail.

"It's not because I don't want to attend, but council meetings are often on a Tuesday and that's a bad day for me as far as real estate work goes."

He said whether or not he was standing again in this year's election was irrelevant. Mr Rackley said he attended other council meetings and workshops outside regular committee meetings.

Councillors said yesterday attendance at committee meetings was not a reflection of the true measure of their workloads.

"They're only half the story," councillor Eric Davy said.

Councillors also attended fewer formal workshops and in-house meetings, some of which the public were not privy to.

Mayor Aldo Miccio, who earned $116,300 this year, attended 21 committee meetings, and was recorded as attending other local government business on three other occasions.

Deputy Mayor Ali Boswijk, who earned $40,952, also attended 21 committee meetings.

Councillor Paul Matheson, who attended 15 meetings and partly attended one more, was displeased with his score, but made light of it by saying he accepted "some of the councillors need educating and some don't".

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Only one meeting for the whole period had the full team present. The governance committee meeting on December 11 last year attracted the full complement of 13 elected members.

The meeting of the Nelson Regional Sewerage Business Unit on March 15 this year, which includes members of the Nelson and Tasman councils, was a complete no-show on Nelson's behalf with neither of the two Nelson city members attending, or any other councillor.

THE SCORE

City councillors had 32 committee and subcommittee meetings to attend from July 1, 2012, to March 31, 2013. Councillors are not expected to attend all meetings, but they can do so of their own accord. Here's the score: Derek Shaw, 24; Gail Collingwood, 23; Mike Ward, 22; Aldo Miccio, 21; Ali Boswijk, 21; Kate Fulton, 21; Rachel Reese, 21; Ian Barker, 20; Ruth Copeland, 20; Pete Rainey, 17; Eric Davy, 16; Paul Matheson, 15; Jeff Rackley, 9.

- The Nelson Mail

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