Pressure grows on deed details

By Annette Lambly

Kaipara Commissioners have said the restoration of trust and confidence in the authority is being inhibited by a failure to release details of the former chief executive's deed of settlement - which included a $240,000 severance payment.

Jack McKerchar received the sum when he quit his position in August 2011, but other details regarding his settlement have remained under wraps.

At a Kaipara District Council meeting yesterday, the council asked chief executive Steve Ruru to consider its concerns when processing the current requests for information on the deed.

He was at the helm in the lead-up to the council's $80 million-plus debt blowout, which subsequently led to the elected council being replaced by commissioners.

Yesterday, chairman John Robertson said there were challenging issues including rating irregularities, and poor financial management facing the council which reflected poorly on the councils of the day.

He said trust, confidence and transparency were vital in rebuilding relationships with the community in order to address these issues.

"The public interest in this matter [the deed] is considerable," he said.

"In our view the withholding of the deed is compromising the commissioner's ability to govern ... the release of the deed would significantly enhance the trust and confidence the public has in the council and it's leadership."

Mr Ruru, who considers the requests for information under the provisions of the Local Government official Information and Meetings Act, told the council he had declined a number of requests for information relating to the departure of Mr McKerchar because he "had not been convinced the public interest outweighed the reasons for withholding the information".

However, he had recently been made aware non disclosure could be affecting the commissioners' ability to address the district's major issues and following the meeting said he would reconsider the matter and make a decision as soon as possible.

Maungaturoto ratepayer Peter Bull, who was at the meeting, said it was "absolutely crucial the deed was released if the council was to gain any confidence from the people of Kaipara".

"The previous council operated in a climate of secrecy ... the question still remains did he [Mr McKerchar] resign or was he pushed, and if he genuinely resigned, why was such a large settlement agreed upon?" said Mr Bull.


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