Invercargill council head's job 'illegal'

EVAN HARDING
Last updated 05:00 20/11/2012
Richard King
JOHN HAWKINS/The Southland Times
RICHARD KING: The Invercargill City Council chief executive is pictured here after receiving his licence back, having been convicted of drink-driving and disqualified from driving for nine months.

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Invercargill Mayor Tim Shadbolt says city council chief executive Richard King may have been illegally employed in the role since 1999.

Mr King has been the council's chief executive for 25 years and is required to re-apply for his job every five years.

But Mr Shadbolt said it appeared the council had been using incorrect procedure "one way or another" to appoint the chief executive since 1999.

"You could say Richard's been illegally employed for the last decade," Mr Shadbolt said. "It's been a disaster."

Mr King was among nearly 40 people who applied for the job this year, with the decision set to to be made by Mr Shadbolt and the 12 city councillors.

However, the appointment process became mired in controversy last month when Cr Norman Elder resigned as chairman of a subcommittee charged with accepting a consultant's recommended shortlist of candidates for the job.

It is understood Mr Elder was upset the subcommittee changed the selection process after the full council had earlier decided on a different selection process.

Mr Shadbolt said he subsequently asked council lawyers to investigate the council's chief executive selection process.

It was discovered to the mayor's "horror" that the subcommittee, called the Chief Executive Officer's Appraisal Committee, had not been given delegated authority by the full council to do anything, Mr Shadbolt said.

"The whole committee structure was illegal under standing orders and legislation, so now we have to try and sort that out."

The council will hold an extraordinary meeting, with the public excluded, at 5pm today to discuss the issue.

The mayor said the buck stopped with him and it was now his responsibility to clean up the mess, but he said others may also want to take some responsibility.

"Although I am claiming responsibility at this point in time, it might be that others want to share the burden and be equally as noble."

Mr Shadbolt said lawyers would put several options before today's meeting before councillors decide what path to take in appointing the chief executive.

It is understood applications for the job have come from Mr King, former council chief executives from around New Zealand and two current senior council staffers.

It is also understood the candidates have been whittled down to the final six, with Mr King among them.

Lawyers will give the councillors various options on how to proceed with the appointment process at today's meeting.

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One of those options will be for the full council to decide who its next chief executive should be from the six shortlisted candidates.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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