Top job to go at DCHL

Paul Orders.
Paul Orders.
Dunedin City Holdings Ltd chief executive Bevan Dodds is to lose his job as the Dunedin City Council tightens its grip on the financial affairs of its companies.

The change - and the recruitment of a new group chief financial officer to oversee both organisations' finances - was part of management restructuring unveiled yesterday by council chief executive Paul Orders. 

The new recruit would be part of the council's executive management team, but would work closely with the council and DCHL to ensure a ''unified'' understanding of the finances of both, Mr Orders said.

The change would help avoid surprises like the multimillion-dollar shortfall in dividend payments from DCHL to the council, which sent shockwaves through the council in 2011.

It would also mean Mr Dodds' role would be disestablished later this year, DCHL chairman Denham Shale confirmed.

Mr Dodds would continue in his role in the meantime, but would not comment yesterday or say whether he planned to apply for the new role.

Mr Orders said the changes also represented a move away from an older ''silo-based approach to financial management'' that split the council from its companies.

"It's clearly the case that one of the risks to the financial stability of the council is the ability of DCHL to maintain its dividend at current levels.

"It seems prudent risk management would involve bringing together DCC and DCHL financial management in one position,'' Mr Orders said.

The need to tighten financial management was a key finding of the Larsen report - prompted by DCHL's dividend shortfall - although the creation of the new post took things ''one step further'', Mr Orders said.''

It's timely and necessary, in my view,'' he said.

DCHL was expected to deliver dividends and cash payments totalling $15.7 million a year until 2015-16.

Mr Shale said yesterday there was no threat to those forecasts ''certainly for the next year, anyway''.

"That's probably as far out as we could be certain.''

Mr Orders said the new recruit would be a ''significant'' appointment and would need a ''very clear'' understanding of commercial and local government finances.

The successful candidate would attend DCHL board meetings while working closely with Mr Orders. Protocols would govern conflicts of interest and reporting methods, he said.

The recruitment process was expected to take two months and the successful candidate should be in place towards the end of the year. Remuneration was yet to be confirmed, he said.

The wider restructure would also see ''clusters'' of services spread more evenly between general managers Tony Avery and Sue Bidrose, Mr Orders said.

Mr Avery would become the council's general manager of infrastructure and networks, while Dr Bidrose would become the general manager of services and development.

Each would have four clusters of council services reporting to them.

Mr Avery's cluster would include economic development and property, headed by former city property manager Robert Clark, while Dr Bidrose's included community and planning, headed by former corporate policy manager Nicola Pinfold.

Council governance manager Sandy Graham would also become corporate services group manager, overseeing governance, information and communication technology and the council's communications.

The council would also recruit a new organisational development and performance manager, to promote ''culture change'' within the council, Mr Orders said. The changes aimed to ensure the council's management structure was ''fit for purpose'' after October's elections, he said.

The changes also followed the departure of three senior managers - Graeme Hall, Grant Strang and Athol Stephens - since late 2011.

Those departures saved the council about $400,000 a year, but had left behind an interim structure that lacked balance and had ''loose ends that needed to be tidied up'', Mr Orders said.

The new, streamlined structure would allow senior managers to spend more time focused on higher-level strategic issues, he said.

Job losses in other areas would not follow, although council transportation operations manager Graeme Hamilton had opted to leave later this year, rather than take on a combined role, Mr Orders said.

The restructure was expected to save the council about $100,000 a year, although Mr Dodds' departure would mean another saving - of up to $229,000 a year - on top for the council group.

Together, the changes dating back to late 2011 represented savings of $729,000 a year across the group.

 


DCC corporate management structure:

Chief executive Paul Orders

Infrastructure and networks general manager Tony Avery, overseeing:

• Economic development and property (group manager Robert Clark).

• Water and waste (group manager Laura McElhone).

• Transportation (acting group manager Graeme Hamilton).

• Parks, recreation and aquatics (group manager Mick Reece).

Services and development general manager Sue Bidrose, overseeing:

• Community and planning (group manager Nicola Pinfold).

• Arts and culture (group manager Bernie Hawke).

Regulatory services (group manager Kevin Thompson).

• Customer Services Agency (manager Adrian Blair).

Corporate services group manager Sandy Graham, overseeing:

• ICT, communications, governance.

Group chief financial officer (vacant)

Organisational development and performance manager (vacant)


 

chris.morris@odt.co.nz

 

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