A more streamlined committee structure is being proposed for the new Gisborne District Council.
Councillors will be asked at their first meeting tomorrow to adopt a decentralised committee structure Mayor Rehette Stoltz hopes will smooth out the decision-making process.
Although there is no reduction in the overall number of committees under the proposal, Mrs Stoltz is recommending that many of the council’s decision-making powers be delegated to three committees of the whole — committees on which all council members sit.
Full council decisions would be limited to strategic and district-wide issues, as prescribed by law.
Giving committees the power to decide, and not just recommend, would speed up decision-making, Mrs Stoltz said in her report on the proposed committee shake-up. It would avoid the situation where recommendations worked out by committees were rehashed and overturned by the council.
Similarly, a committee of the whole, with better-defined functions, could deal with issues that previously needed to go through two committees because of overlapping interests.
In her report, Mrs Stoltz notes the way decision-making is organised “in many ways determines whether a council is responsive to community concerns, is innovative, focused, open and inclusive”.
Scrapping citizen trustees on relief fund recommended
Although local authorities have significant discretion in setting their governance structures, they must avoid conflicts relevant to their regulatory functions.
To that end, the proposed committee structure keeps environmental management separate from asset management and service delivery.
The Sustainable Tairawhiti/Toitu Tairawhiti committee of the whole will deal with strategy, plans, policies and bylaws, and environmental monitoring.
The operations committee of the whole will oversee council programmes, services, activities and projects.
The third committee of the whole — finance and performance — will monitor how well the council is working.
There will be three statutory committees— regional transport, civil defence and emergency management, and district licensing — and committees for audit and risk, wastewater management, code of conduct complaints, reviewing the chief executive’s performance, and the joint management agreement between the council and Te Runanganui o Ngati Porou for the Waiapu catchment.
Rounding out the committee structure are a regulatory hearings panel and the “local leadership body” established under the Ngai Tamanuhiri Claims Settlement Act 2012 to ensure the council and Turanga iwi work together on important issues.
It is yet to hold a public meeting.
Mrs Stoltz will also ask the council for permission to recruit an independent chairperson for the audit and risk committee.
Last term, the finance and audit committee was chaired by councillor Brian Wilson, who did not contest this year’s election.
Meanwhile, council staff have recommended the scrapping of citizen trustees on the Gisborne District Disaster Relief Fund.
The council will be asked to approve a reduced membership for the trust, from up to nine trustees to a total of three — two council officers (currently the chief executive and civil defence and emergency manager) and the mayor.
Tomorrow’s council meeting, which is being held at Te Poho-o-Rawiri Marae from 9am, will be immediately followed by a meeting of the civil defence and emergency management committee on which all councillors sit.