Mixed response to extra IT job

Melanie Tavendale
Melanie Tavendale
A funding request for an additional staff member for the Waitaki District Council’s IT department drew a mixed response in the council chambers yesterday, despite being approved.

Council information services group manager Bill Chou outlined the need for the council to recruit an information management team leader to lessen the workload placed on the council’s information systems manager.

However, the funding request of $70,000 a year in total - initially $40,000 from the council’s ‘‘big data’’ allocation fund and $30,000 from its digital workplace project fund - was not received with enthusiasm by some.

Cr Jim Hopkins questioned whether the position was needed given only two staff members would report to them. Mr Chou replied that it was in order to improve the department’s efficiency and have a ‘‘team leader’’ who could ‘‘give guidance and help’’ to the two staff.

Cr Hopkins also asked if other options had been considered, such as contracting out the position.

The district council’s chief executive, Fergus Power, baulked at the suggestion, and said that move had backfired on councils in the past.

‘‘They can be used, but what experience has shown in other local authorities that have gone down that route is that they have lived to regret it . . . because they don’t have the same understanding and knowledge of that organisation.’’

A potential recruit had been lined up by the council, Mr Chou said.

However, Cr Melanie Tavendale was hesitant to endorse the request.

‘‘We have had a lot of requests from the information services base for staff. I am probably not fully comfortable and want to know more about how they work together,’’ she said.

Cr Colin Wollstein said the move was necessary.

‘‘I encourage council to approve this. I have often heard it referred to as the engine that keeps council running. I see this as being a step for the engine to run council more efficiently.’’

daniel.birchfield@odt.co.nz

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