Published 31 October 2007Auckland City deputy mayor David Hay will put his proposal for a cut in committees to the council tomorrow night, but says councillors will actually have a bigger workload because of a number of major reviews.
He wants to increase payments to committee chairmen, introduce more substantial roles for their deputies – and to pay for a large portion of that he wants to slash payments to community boards.
In the past 3 years, management of notified consents was put in the hands of the planning fixtures committee – a full committee separate from the planning & regulatory committee, which dealt with bylaws, including the controversial signs & billboards bylaw reviews.
Those roles will revert to a city development committee under the Hay proposal. Cllr Hay’s preferred option for consent hearings is for most of it to be done by independent commissioners, supported by one councillor on some occasions “to provide community input if considered necessary”.
The deputy chairman of the city development committee will be charged with overseeing the bylaw & district plan review programme, which includes a revised scheme to get through the Hauraki Gulf Islands section of the district plan review and continuation of the bylaws review.
Independent commissioners will be delegated to make decisions on:
resource consent applications that don’t require a hearing, and which aren’t currently delegated to staffdispensations from the bylaws, including signs & billboard bylaws, andother regulatory consent matters.
The council had 11 major & 3 minor committees over the last term. Cllr Hay wants to retain the minor committees and reduce the majors to 5:
Arts, culture, recreationCity developmentTransport & infrastructureFinance & strategy, andCommunity services.
He will add a regional governance committee, which will deal with the inquiry into Auckland governance and meet as required.
In his paper, Cllr Hay set out a series of criticisms of the structure of the past 3 years, benefits of his proposed scheme and how the pool of funds allocated to Auckland City Council governance should be split up.
Cllr Hay said the number & structure of committees in the past 3 years facilitated extensive coverage of the council’s key business areas, but had unintended consequences:
A general feeling of increased busyness compared to the previous term of council: 14 committees & 2 boards created high workloads for councillors, both in terms of attending & preparing for meetingsA blurring of responsibilities & delegations between committees: The high number of committees created overlapping accountabilities, and at times led to confused decisionmakingToo many reports to read: 14 committees & 2 boards created a need for more papers to be written, creating a workload burden for councillors & staffToo many briefings & workshops with no obvious purpose or outcome: Despite the large number of committees, there was also a practice of setting up additional briefings & workshops. This created even more time pressures for councillors and risks around delegationsToo many working parties & sub-committees: As with briefings & workshops, this added workload to councillors and potential for confusion over delegationsLimited time to schedule other required activities such as hearings: Because of all the committee commitments, there was often insufficient time available for councillors to participate in other council responsibilitiesDiscouraged governance at a high level: The focus of some committees was more operational rather than governance.
Cllr Hay proposes that the city development committee will deal with:
urban growthcharacter & heritageurban designsustainabilityeconomic developmentinfrastructure (excluding transport)central area & waterfrontdistrict plans & bylaws, andinternational relations.
He said the benefits of the proposed structure included clear accountabilities & delegations for councillors & the organisation:
fewer meetings requireddistinct areas of focus for councillorsdeduced workload for the organisation, allowing for improved quality of advice & reportswould free councillors up to act as advocates for constituents, andgreater focus on high-level governance.
Under the Hay model, cutting the number of committees will save about $570,000 in remuneration of chairmen, but adding responsibilities for their deputies will add about $290,000 to the bill. He proposes savings at the community board level – $90,000 by cutting members’ honorariums 20%, from $10,161 to $8000, and $47,000 by cutting chairmen’s honorariums 23%, from $20,729 to $16,000.
The net effect of additions & reductions would be to create a pool of $181,000 from which those taking part in the hearings for the district plan & bylaw reviews would be paid. Cllr Hay will recommend this to the council, which then has to make a recommendation to the Remuneration Authority, which ultimately determines local body politicians’ remuneration.
Attribution: Council agenda, story written by Bob Dey for this website.