"Part-time" councillors work hard in community, says mayor

By Victoria White victoria white@hbtoday co nz

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UNOPPOSED: Napier mayor Bill Dalton is standing unopposed.
UNOPPOSED: Napier mayor Bill Dalton is standing unopposed.

SITTING AROUND THE COUNCIL TABLE is only one part of a councillor's role, says Napier mayor Bill Dalton.

"At the end of the day, if you have a look at a councillor's salary they're based on being part-time. Some councillors who may have missed the odd meeting are the best contributors because they work so hard in other areas. Councillors do a hell of a lot of work in the community and attending meetings is only one of the areas where they are involved."

Mr Dalton said he was very comfortable with the fact that councillors regularly attended, and contributed at meetings.

When asked if there were valid reasons for councillors' absence from required meetings, he said: "The only reason a councillor would miss a meeting was if there was a valid reason, otherwise they'd be there."

No councillor had a 100 per cent attendance record for the 274 meetings, and seminars since the 2013 election - this figure did not include some other committee meetings.

However, councillor-at-large Michelle Pyke and deputy mayor Faye White were the closest - both attending 259 meetings.

Councillor Richard McGrath had both the lowest record of attendance, and highest percentage of attendance - he was elected in August 2014 after Rob Lutter resigned.

Although he missed 103 meetings before the by-election, he did not miss any of 171 after taking his seat on council.

Councillor Tony Jeffery had an attendance record of 219 of the possible 274. This was four absences below Nelson Park ward councillor Mark Hamilton.

Mr Jeffrey said he was involved in a lot of meetings which were not recorded - such as his role chairing the hearings committee, and being hearings commissioner.

"I work fulltime, and certainly attend as many meetings as I can," he said. "I think the city gets pretty good value out of me."

The at-large councillor had missed more seminars than meetings, and said he did not attend some as they were on issues he was already up to speed on, being in his fifth term on the council.

"I don't think I've ever missed a full council meeting," he said, adding if a committee meeting were missed there was still time to debate the issues before a decision was made by council."

Without dates of specific absences, Mr Jeffrey - who is standing for re-election - could not pinpoint the reason for them. However, Mr Dalton said councillors normally attended all meetings unless there was a good reason, which could be anything from family issues, illness or "leave for whatever reason".

- Hawkes Bay Today

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