City's new boss thrashes out contract

By John Cousins

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A confidential meeting takes place today to decide on the terms of the employment contract for the man hired to restructure the Tauranga City Council.

"There is a lot you have to go through to employ someone," Mayor Stuart Crosby said in response to being asked what the meeting was for when Leigh Auton had already started work as the council's interim chief executive.

Mr Crosby said last month's decision had been to offer Mr Auton the job. But until the council had agreed on his terms of employment, Christine Jones was technically still the acting chief executive.

Mr Auton's fixed-term contract would include key performance indicators which Mr Crosby said were pretty standard for a CEO.

Mr Crosby anticipated that Mr Auton's contract would be for 12 months and include the specific functions of restructuring the council and finding efficiencies. He would also be involved in the process of going out to the market later this year to appoint a full-time chief executive.

Mr Auton's employment followed the sudden death on June 17 of chief executive Ken Paterson.

He will steer the council through the changes initiated by Mr Paterson who was in the job for only 11 months.

The council was offering a fixed-term contract instead of the usual five-year term with a two-year right of renewal. Despite the shorter contract, Mr Auton would function as the chief executive, with Ms Jones reverting to her role as the deputy chief executive involving whatever powers and functions the chief executive delegated to her.

Mr Crosby said the meeting was confidential because it involved the council discussing various elements of Mr Auton's employment agreement. It would include the salary package.

Mr Crosby said it was a unique set of circumstances brought about by the death of Mr Paterson. The council did not want to wait for a full CEO recruitment process that could take six months.

Mr Auton's appointment followed statements by Mr Crosby that the council was committed to "resetting" the organisation for the future.

Mr Auton was the former chief executive of the Manukau City Council until his job was swallowed up by the creation of the new Auckland super council in 2010. He has had experience with restructuring and establishing council-controlled companies.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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