IT legal issues spark council's sharing move
Problems with IT systems could see the Mackenzie District Council facing potential legal issues.
The council's Geographical Information System (GIS) is in need of an upgrade.
Finance manager Paul Morris warned councillors at this week's meeting that "doing nothing" could open up the council to potential legal issues stemming from incorrect LIM reports and asset locations.
"During the last revaluation, it was discovered the information we sent to our valuers was incorrect. This was due to multiple users creating different copies of the data, manipulating the information and treating it as correct," Mr Morris said.
"If council chose to do nothing, the GIS information will get progressively worse.
"If the information is not accurate, and third parties place reliance on that information to their detriment, then council will be liable for damages."
Mr Morris proposed that a new staff member be employed to bring the system up to date.
However, the council's response to the proposal was muted.
Cr Graeme Page asked whether it was possible to either share the role with another district council, or outsource it to a private tender.
"This is one industry where you don't have to be under the thumb of a manager," he said.
"I'm not convinced that we can't share this responsibility with another council.
"It is not just the salary of the staff member that worries me, but all the other costs that come with their employment."
Chief executive Glen Innes replied that it was a pressing issue which would be best served by an "on the ground" staff member.
"We need to keep our house in order.
"I would be hesitant in someone from outside doing our housekeeping," he said.
However, deputy mayor Graham Smith agreed with Cr Page.
"My concern is that the IT department is growing legs, and that suddenly we will be building an empire of IT staff. Surely it would be simpler to contract this out," Mr Smith said.
Mr Morris estimated that the new position's salary would be between $47,000 and $58,000.
Cr John Bishop said the council should be wary of taking on extra costs.
"I see this council as a small business, with a $5 million turnover. I don't think just employing an extra person would be any guarantee that the job would get done," he said.
The councillors unanimously passed a motion asking management to investigate the possibility of shared services. Mayor Claire Barlow vacated the council chambers during the discussion, owing to a potential conflict of interest. The council's IT manager is her husband, Stephen Barlow.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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