Views on whether the Central Otago District Council should undertake an independent performance review ranged from a suggestion to “bin it” to requests to go ahead as soon as possible.

Two members of the public suggested a CouncilMARK organisational performance review for the Central Otago District be adopted, stating they had dissatisfaction with service levels.

Alexandra residents Hugh McIntyre and Don Sparks first asked the programme be adopted in November last year and while council staff recommended the council not adopt it, Mayor Tim Cadogan delayed the decision to allow time for him to get feedback on its possible merits from other mayors.

 CouncilMARK, widely used throughout the country, is designed to “improve the knowledge of the work a council does and support the council to further improve the service and value they provide”, according to a report presented yesterday.

The $26,000 programme incorporates an independent assessment system, and the council receives an overall rating and commentary on their performance as part of the process. It focuses on governance, leadership and strategy, financial decision making and transparency, service delivery and asset management and how councils communicate and engage with the public and businesses.

In a report to the council the pair raised concerns over how enquiries were dealt with by staff and said they desired a “change of culture”.

“We want to identify that there are some practices undertaken by senior staff that are not acceptable to the community they serve.”

They felt a system was needed to properly deal with complaints and said a negative attitude was held by much of the business community toward council, which needed to change.

The national guiding body for councils, Local Government New Zealand, had been consulted and advised that an election year was not the best time for such a review, with new councillors needing time to become familiar with processes. 

Mayor Tim Cadogan suggested the adoption of the review be discussed after this year’s local body elections.

“There’s never a good time to do things like this but potentially right now there couldn’t be a worse time. I’m not talking about election year, it’s Omicron… the effect it’s going to have on this organisation.”

“A think review is good. At a philosophical level there’s no issue with it all. It is reasonable that we should want to do it. All staff should want it.”

Some councillors wanted a firm commitment to going ahead with the review in future rather than allowing more discussion. A majority of councillors however voted to allow more discussion with a view to proceeding with a review from January 2023. Crs Calvert, Paterson, Tamah Alley and Lynley Claridge voted against this.

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