Council to review second division

The performance of a second Dunedin City Council department is to be reviewed, as the council continues its hunt for operational efficiencies.

Councillors at the 2011-12 pre-draft annual plan deliberations on Friday voted to review the practices of the council's development services department, which covered animal control, building control, environmental health and liquor licensing.

The move was proposed by Cr Syd Brown, chairman of the council's finance, strategy and development committee, who said it would be about "shaking the tree" while examining council processes.

It was the second review approved by councillors during the pre-draft annual plan hearing.

Cr Brown pushed successfully on Thursday for a review of the council's economic development unit (EDU) .

At the time, Cr Brown said the EDU review was among several he planned to recommend, alongside a drive to find savings within council capital expenditure.

The details of the reviews would be brought to the council's planning and environment committee for approval before beginning.

Cr Fliss Butcher again questioned the cost of a review, having also done so on Thursday, but the latest review won support from councillors.

Cr Lee Vandervis said he had fielded public complaints about the department's processes for builders, including one from a man hoping to add a small toilet to a garage he was building.

"He ended up having to have 14 separate visits from building inspectors - 14 visits for a garage.

"Although there are costs involved in actually having a look at these things, if you look at the wider picture there are much greater costs involved, potentially."

Cr Richard Thomson agreed, saying the Central Otago District Council had already enjoyed success in reducing the time it took to issue consents after a review.

"I think we need to be open to that."

Cr Andrew Noone said he was comfortable with a review, but reminded Cr Vandervis councils were now required to comply with a host of rules that previously did not exist.

Council chief executive Jim Harland said he had confidence in the practices in place, and had "no problems" with a review of any council department.

"While there's always room for improvement, I'm confident the basic practices we operate are sound," he said.

chris.morris@odt.co.nz

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