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New Approach Needed For RLC To Respond To Issues

Chief executive Geoff Williams says that Rotorua is facing challenging times and the Council organisation needs to make changes to ensure it is in the right shape to respond to these issues.

“We are operating in a very uncertain environment, at a time when our community is faced with significant issues including housing, safety, employment, climate resilience. Given the way the world has changed in the past 12 months, it is unrealistic to expect our organisation to stay the same. We are facing new and challenging issues and when you’re asked to achieve new things, you must take a new approach and that is exactly what we are doing with this realignment.”

Through its Long-Term Plan development process, (the plan is set is to be adopted on Monday 28 June), Council will be expected to respond to demanding expectations, resulting in a change to the way the organisation operates.

This change is being reflected in an organisational realignment that is currently underway. The phased approach is highly consultative, involving feedback from all Council staff, and the introduction of deputy chief executive (DCE) roles, who are each responsible and accountable for significant outcome areas.

Councillors and other elected members were made aware of the proposed realignment changes in a Long-Term Plan workshop in September 2020 and the mayor and committee chairs have also been regularly updated on progress.

The introduction of DCE roles means enhanced accountability, as they are responsible for ensuring key outcomes are met. This part of the realignment process resulted in a salary adjustment of just under $18,000 for one individual who moved to a brand new role. Another individual took on significantly more responsibility and their salary adjustment of just under $10,000 reflected that.

These two roles were independently market benchmarked using a specialist remuneration consultancy. They were benchmarked and positioned based on the individual’s skills and experience and the responsibilities the role carries.

Salary bands reflect a range that will enable a position holder to develop greater skills and competencies. The two DCE role that received salary adjustments are being paid within their respective benchmark bands.

Williams says no council staff have received a general salary increase since 2019 and that the two DCE salary adjustments were tied to a new role and significantly more responsibility.

“No one would expect a staff member to take on a new role that has been independently-sized and has greater responsibility than before, and not be fairly recompensed.

“All Council roles are independently-sized within a band and individuals are placed onto that band based on experience and ability. There are some situations where, due to years of service, exceptional performance and/or market demand, the decision is made to place people on up to 115% of the band. This is allowed under existing policy, and is acceptable employment practice.

“I actually think all Council staff deserve to be paid more for the fantastic work they do for our community, but unfortunately we are not in that environment. In 2020, a wage freeze on Council staff was put in place.”

Williams says the introduction of DCE titles indicates a significant change in their scope of work, moving from outputs to outcomes.

“As an example, we used to have the title Group Manager, Infrastructure and that has now shifted to DCE Infrastructure and Environmental Solutions. The difference is that we’re no longer just focusing on building and maintaining Council infrastructure, we’re focused on building houses, better supporting our environment and ensuring we’ve got the ability to respond to climate change. Those are different responsibilities to being simply responsible for council infrastructure.

The current round of organisational realignment internal consultation has been completed. The DCEs are now reviewing and considering the staff feedback that has been received.

“The changes to the executive team titles and associated accountabilities have only recently been finalised. The announcement to staff at the end of March was made to ensure that the organisation understood the changes first.

“Once we have completed the organisational realignment process, there will be a public announcement as to how the organisation will operate. Until that time, we will treat any further communication about the process as internal.”

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