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Mayor Peter Butler says council amalgamation scares staff

By Lawrence Gullery

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The threat of council amalgamation next year is making it difficult for at least one of the region's councils to attract new staff.

Central Hawke's Bay Mayor Peter Butler said while there was not likely to be a poll on merging councils until later this year, news of the proposal had already had a negative impact on his council's ability to attract new people into jobs.

"We wanted a financial manager and got a lot of replies. We interviewed three or four people and the person we selected rang up a week before he was due to start and told us no, he didn't want the job.

"We then took the second person in line for the job and the same thing happened. Both came up with a weak excuse not to take the job and the real reason, we believe, we've put it down to talk of amalgamation."

Mr Butler said the problem was solved by entering into a shared services arrangement with neighbours Tararua District Council, to fulfil the financial manager's role.

"OK, so we've saved a lot of money not having to hire someone to do that job. But the situation remains that no one will want to come here to work when they may have to leave in 12 to 18 months."

Mr Butler's comments on amalgamation form part of Hawke's Bay Today's Insight feature on councillor attendance at council meetings during 2012.

Figures obtained under the Official Information Act showed Hastings Mayor Lawrence Yule had one of the lowest attendance rates last year but he disagreed it was the result of his work in Wellington as president of Local Government New Zealand.

In the breakdown, Mr Yule attended 13 of the 14 full council meetings but just 23 of the 35 committee meetings.

"I make sure to attend the full council meetings because those are the ones I have to chair. I always read the agendas for the committee meetings and then have to make a call on whether I attend the meeting or attend something else that I've been asked to do on behalf of Hastings.

"My work with Local Government New Zealand is programmed into my diary in and around my work for Hastings."

- HAWKES BAY TODAY

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