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Economic development focus for new boss

MATTHEW LITTLEWOOD
Last updated 08:54 16/11/2012
glen innes
MATTHEW LITTLEWOOD/ Fairfax NZ
NEW FACE: Mackenzie District Council's retiring chief Glen Innes, left, welcomes his replacement, Wayne Barnett.

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Mackenzie District Council's new chief executive Wayne Barnett admits there are challenges ahead for the council, but is optimistic about its future.

Mr Barnett presided over his first council meeting on Tuesday, taking over from Glen Innes who has retired after serving 10 years as chief executive.

He was surprised to hear it was somewhat shorter than the usual council meeting - with all matters wrapped up in time for lunch.

Although Mr Barnett has previous experience in local government as the Marlborough District Council's services and operations manager, this is his first time in the top spot.

"I've only been in the region for a few days. I'm still very new to the place, and there are a number of things I will need to bring myself up to speed [with]," he said.

His return to local government comes after a period as a project manager for Fulton Hogan.

Mr Barnett acknowledged the Government's upcoming reforms could potentially limit the roles and responsibilities of local authorities.

"However, all we can do as a council is provide the services we are tasked with in a way that satisfies the needs of the ratepayers and the community. Fundamentally, if our responsibilities change, we will have to work within that," he said.

This year, councillors decided to can the council's tourism trust, and a working party has been established to look at future options for economic development.

Mr Barnett said his job would be to provide the councillors with good, evidence-based information to assist with their decision-making. He hoped his experience as an executive officer for the Port Marlborough company would prove an advantage.

"Economic development is a challenge, but like other councils, central government funding for roading has been cut, so we have to respond to that. The upcoming regulations for drinking water quality will also be a challenge," he said.

However, settling into the new region was his first challenge - his wife was also looking forward to the move.

"As a keen mountainbiker, average skier and below-average golfer, the region's environment also appeals to me," Mr Barnett said.

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- The Timaru Herald

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