WDC makes major change to committees

The Waitaki District Council has made a big change to its structure, replacing its five main committees with a single "committee of the whole".

Waitaki Mayor Alex Familton and all the councillors will sit on the committee, and all will have voting rights.

Yesterday, at its second full council meeting, the focus was on the structure the local body would adopt for the next three years.

The previous council had five main committees - assets, property, community services, corporate services and strategy.

Those committees made decisions under delegated authority and recommendations for the consideration of the full council.

Councillors were appointed and given the power to vote on the separate committees, which all met on the same day.

Other councillors could sit in on committees they were not appointed to, but without voting rights.

This led to some councillors questioning the democratic process, particularly when the committees were making decisions when they had no vote.

Corporate services group manager Stephen Halliwell told councillors yesterday's process was important because the decisions they made would determine how efficiently the council was run.

The council was presented with two options, both of which involved replacing the five main committees with one committee of the whole.

The difference between the two options centred on who sub-committees would report to and what power they would be given.

Councillors opted for a structure that had the committee of the whole, and the council's other committees - the executive committee, the hearings committee and the grants and awards committees - reporting to the full council.

Sub-committees will report to the committee of the whole.

Mr Familton said if the council adopted the new structure, it would be reviewed by June next year.

That included the membership of the committees and sub-committees.

The council appointed Mr Familton, deputy mayor Jim Hopkins and Crs Peter Garvan, Kathy Dennison and Kevin Malcolm to the executive committee.

However, when it came to appointments to other committees and sub-committees, the council decided to wait until a meeting on Monday.

Initially, it was proposed to make those appointments yesterday, but councillors decided it wanted Mr Familton and the executive committee to make recommendations.

Mr Familton had polled councillors on their interests and wishes for committee memberships, and councillors felt he was best placed to assist them make a final decision through his recommendations.

Cr Helen Stead was concerned that nominations and voting on individual appointments yesterday could be confusing, resulting in some councillors missing out or others having a heavier workload.

Cr Geoff Keeling said Mr Familton knew the desires of councillors and should "tease out" a list for consideration.

Cr Gus Young questioned the meeting nominating, seconding then voting on members of committees and suggested Mr Familton decide.

The council retained its six-weekly meeting cycle.

Committee of the whole meetings will be held as required and three weeks before the council meeting.

Having the committee of the whole with all councillors as members meant urgent decisions could be made without having to wait for the full six-week cycle of council.

david.bruce@odt.co.nz

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