As we close in on the middle of the year and the days are getting shorter, it is worthwhile reflecting on how things have been going and where we want to get to.
That is the case with so much of the work we have on the go at the moment at the Waitaki District Council.
We are currently carrying out several consultation processes.
We received around 70 submissions from the public on the draft annual plan budget.
The Forrester Heights consultation has seen very good engagement, with around 750 submissions. They will be heard soon and a decision will be made following those deliberations.
And we are preparing the draft district plan for public engagement, detailing how we manage resources and how the Waitaki district develops in the future.
These processes are very important to get your feedback on what should happen in Waitaki, what projects are important, and how we look after our land and our people. One of the aspects that is common to all of this work at council is the people employed to see it carried out.
As elected members, the councillors and I employ just one person at the council, the chief executive, who in turn, employs the staff.
Last year, we went to the market for a new chief executive, and were very pleased to be able to appoint Alex Parmley. The reasons he was our choice came down to several important attributes.
Alex was working in local government in the UK, carrying out quite a number of different activities to those we deliver in New Zealand. That’s important for the future for local government reform, looking at what other activities councils could carry out to improve the community wellbeing.
Also, Alex has successfully implemented transformational change in the councils he has worked in. And thirdly, we appreciate Alex’s relaxed personality, but focused determination to oversee an organisation which performs well for its community.
So, transformation of our council’s delivery of services is coming, but rather than imposing change from above, it is being done alongside staff. Not only is that great for the culture of the organisation, it also ensures that excellent ideas can come from the workers at the coalface — the people who see the effects of policy and what works and what doesn’t.
It isn’t a case of fixing something that is broken, but rather we see the transformation happening to improve the organisation, making it more efficient, ensuring that everyone is working in a co-ordinated way to achieve the goals and vision of elected members and the community, and doing that as cost-effectively as possible.
Of course, time will tell just how well that transformation is carried out and the community will be the judge of the results. But as we chart an uncertain course through the current seas of change, we want to put our district in the best position possible as we make Waitaki the best place for our people.
One last, brief note — local government elections are being held in October. Nominations are open for a month from mid-July, and we need great people to stand for roles as community board members, councillors and mayor. If you are interested in any of these roles, please feel free to contact myself, one of our councillors or Alex.
You could be part of the next stage of transformation in Waitaki.
Best wishes and take care.
Gary Kircher is the Mayor of Waitaki.