Tararua council staff in demand

By Christine McKay

Sharing services with the Central Hawke's Bay District Council (CHB) will not put additional pressures on its staff, the Tararua District Council has been told.

Shared services between the CHB and Tararua District Councils have already been working well in the liquor licensing and environmental health areas and now the Tararua finance team will offer assistance as well.

"It is a good initiative and indicative of the calibre of our finance team," Tararua District Council chief executive Blair King has said.

"While CHB have their own finance team, the high level strategy skills aren't there and they're looking at using what we have here. Raj Suppiah, our chief financial officer, has been talking with John Freeman, the CHB Council's chief executive, on how this [sharing of services] can occur without affecting any of our projects," Mr King said.

Mr Suppiah said CHB have a team in place, but want someone to step in and give strategic advice, based on the experience the Tararua financial team has.

The shared services will allow Tararua staff to gain even more skills and will be a great staff development move, as well as a step in helping retain good staff at council, Mr Suppiah said.

There will be no increase in the finance team staffing within Tararua District Council because of the move, but the additional revenue will help provide updated reporting options for the team.

However, councillor Brenda Dodunski said she was concerned about the workload being placed on staff.

"I don't want to put a dampener on this news, but what I've seen has been more staff stressed and working longer hours," she said.

However, Mr King said the move was seen as a relationship building exercise, which would be a benefit to the Tararua District Council as well as CHB.

"I'm concerned with all the talk of amalgamations and the feeling in Government is that small councils are vulnerable. Shared services are a way to build relationships, because I would hate us to be lumped in with Hastings or Palmerston North.

"The shared services aren't there as purely a money making venture. I'd happily keep Raj here full time, but is that the best use of use his time?

"By sharing the skills and expertise we have in the finance team of Raj, Bevan (Gray) and Cameron (McKay), there will be gains for us and CHB," he said. "John (Freeman) has seen the success of our Long Term Plan process and working together can only be a win/win for everyone."

Councillor Shirley Hull commended the council's finance team on their skills and expertise.

"To have CHB want to utilise those skills is great for our council," she said.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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