Do long-titled committees make for better or worse government, or doesn’t it matter?
Some of the titles at Auckland City Council in the last local body term were getting a little expansive â€“ finance & corporate business and strategy & governance were 2.
Under the City Vision/Labour vision for sustainable development, considering the 4 well-beings, separating policy from day-to-day business, introducing some preferred emphases wanting to get the job descriptions more complete, the council structure has been refashioned into 8 policy committees, 6 operational committees, and most of them have long titles. 2 terms ago the council had 17 committees, last time it got down to 11.
The chairmen, deputies & members of each of the new committees will be named at a council meeting on Thursday night.
I figure a long title gives you the opportunity to get bogged down in hunting for the meaning of life; a short description means you’re more likely to get on with doing things.
But Cllr Hucker’s elevation to a power role as deputy mayor â€“ contrasting with a weak role as deputy on a split council 2 terms ago followed by a term in opposition – is very much about changing the council direction.
From a review of “noisy sports” to a broad outlook
Apart from some specifics such as a review of “noisy sports” on council properties and canning the eastern motorway, what Cllr Hucker released was a broad outlook, the detail & specific tasks to be focused on once committees are selected.
Specifics on finance were left until later â€“ the council’s annual plan direction-setting process will start with an all-day meeting on Thursday 18 November. Cllr Hucker intimated the new council would stick with the 10-year policy on reducing the rates differential, but changes can be expected to the uniform annual charge policy, which by its very nature hits poorer people harder.
There is a heavy emphasis on urban design underlying various parts of the structure â€“ Cllr Hucker is a senior lecturer in planning at Auckland University.
The 4 well-beings are specifically mentioned in the 2002 Local Government Act as requiring attention – economic, environmental, social & cultural.
So, for them, there are 4 policy committees:
Arts, culture & recreation
Community development & equity
Economic development & sustainable business, and
Environmental, heritage & urban form.
Another 2 policy committees are to take an overarching, balancing view of the issues facing the city and to tackle vital transport & urban linkages:
Transport & urban linkages, and
Urban strategy & governance.
2 more policy committees will meet every 2nd month, one making up for the rejection by the last council of some longstanding links such as those with the Pacific Island community and the other widening the “law & order” focus of a committee run by Cllr Noelene Raffills on the last council:
Public safety & community order.
The 6 operational committees are:
Finance & corporate business
Planning & regulatory
Works & services, and
There are also numerous subcommittees, working parties & external organisations on which the city council is represented.
Cllr Hucker said the cost in councillor payments wouldn’t rise because there were more committees â€“ councillors are bulk-funded. But there is always potential for changes in cost according to the backup required (direct staff, ease in reporting channels, for example).
4 of the policy committees & 2 of the operational committees are likely to impact on what you want to build in the city. I’ll detail them in a separate story.
“If endorsed, this structure will signal the beginning of a new, more inclusive city, fit for our exciting future ahead,” Cllr Hucker said.
Related story: Key points in the Auckland City restructure
Council website: Auckland City Council