Trust in decision-making about local needs drops

Photo: ODT files
Southland residents have increased confidence in the Southland District Council’s decision-making process, a council report shows.

However, their confidence about the decision-making when the council is representing local and district needs has dropped 7% from the previous year.

Council planning and reporting analyst Shannon Oliver presented an interim performance report for the 2020-21 financial year to councillors during yesterday’s finance and assurance committee meeting.

Ms Oliver said the document provided a snapshot of the council’s key performance indicators (KPIs)

Of the 113 KPIs, 73, or 65%, were achieved, she said.

"In comparison to last year, the June 2020 reporting period, results for the 113 KPIs were 77 or 68% were achieved."

Cr John Douglas asked about the council’s low score in the "percentage of residents that feel council decision-making represents local and district needs" category.

The council was aiming to reach 85% in the category but reported in June an achievement of 37% — lower than the previous year’s 44%.

Ms Oliver said comments about the indicator were a mixed bag, but highlighted the survey was conducted at the same time as the long-term plan consultation.

Comments from residents included that rates and fees were too high, there was a lack of consultation, there was dissatisfaction with regulations, it was hard to deal with the council, there was a lack of funding and there were no local community initiatives, she said.

"There was a lot of dissatisfaction within the community as to a proposed rates increase so possibly this had an impact on the results of this survey."

She also believed change in the structure of community boards could have affected the results, as many residents felt there was a smaller local voice input in decisions.

Additional effort was being made regarding boards’ connections with communities to try to mitigate those feelings, she said.

Confidence in the council’s decision-making process rose — it was 73% last year, while this year it reached 80%.

Another report, about the council’s projects which were carried forward from the 2020-21 annual plan to the 2021-22 one, was also received by councillors.

Chief financial officer Anne Robson said the council carried 106 projects, totalling a value of $4,047,867.

"Historically we have carried forward around a third of the projects, this year it is 40%".

The number of projects carried forward had increased compared with the previous year, but their value had decreased; in 2019-20 the council carried 96 projects, totalling $9,077,044, she said.

Chairman Bruce Robertson asked staff and councillors to think of a plan of action as he believed many of the projects put forward were related to small communities’ upgrades, and this could have an impact on those communities’ confidence about council decision-making.

Yesterday, councillors also reconvened a council meeting to discuss their feedback on the Government’s proposed Three Waters reforms.

A letter outlining concerns and clarifications sought by the council was approved.

The document would be available publicly within the next few days.

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