Matthew Martin is a senior reporter at the Rotorua Daily Post

Vote of confidence called during heated council meeting

2 comments
Rotorua Lakes councillors Rob Kent, Merepeka Raukawa-Tait, and Chief Financial Officer Thomas Colle.
Rotorua Lakes councillors Rob Kent, Merepeka Raukawa-Tait, and Chief Financial Officer Thomas Colle.

Allegations of a financial "whitewash" led Rotorua's mayor to call for an unprecedented vote of confidence in council management at a heated Rotorua Lakes Council meeting.

Councillor Rob Kent today alleged financial mismanagement by council staff at an operations and monitoring committee meeting, saying he had found a difference of $2.445 million in budgets presented by chief financial officer Thomas Colle.

"He's totally avoided the issue ... what I'm seeing here is quite honestly a whitewash," Mr Kent said during the meeting.

Mr Colle denied the allegations, saying Mr Kent's information was incorrect and he was not using the correct figures when making his calculations.

"There is no conspiracy theory here ... and there's no nice way of saying this, the spreadsheet the councillor [Kent] gave me is significantly flawed.

"On it he uses figures that are inflated and uninflated ... and then tries to form a picture.

"I have a team of qualified accountants that sit behind me and do all this work and they follow robust methodology."

But Mr Kent repeatedly asked for answers to his questions in writing after most councillors expressed satisfaction in Mr Colle and his team's abilities.

The council has six qualified accountants - five who are members of Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand and one member of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants.

Councillor Merepeka Raukawa-Tait called Mr Kent a "smart arse" and a "bully" and said the rest of council was sick of his incessant attacks on staff and he needed to move on.

"I do not know why we pussy foot around with councillor Kent ... he will never be satisfied with any answer that is given. He sounds plausible but I can tell you I know bullying behaviour when I see it.

"I read nothing that comes in from councillor Kent, nothing, because it's coming from a disaffected councillor or a smart arse, whichever, take your pick."

Mr Kent found himself a lone voice when a vote of confidence in chief executive Geoff Williams and chief financial officer Thomas Colle was called by mayor Steve Chadwick.

Upon an interjection by Mr Kent, meeting chairwoman Janet Wepa asked Mrs Raukawa-Tait not to refer to other councillors in a derogatory manner.

Mr Kent did receive some support for his request for a written response to his questions from councillors Mike McVicker and Glenys Searancke.

Mr Kent said when he had received his written response he would be taking his concerns to the Office of the Auditor General and would accept its response.

He was encouraged to do so by councillor Karen Hunt and deputy mayor Dave Donaldson, who along with councillors Mark Gould, Trevor Maxwell and Charles Sturt congratulated Mr Colle for his professionalism and excellent work with the budgets.

After the meeting, Mrs Chadwick said the vote of confidence was unprecedented.

- Rotorua Daily Post

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

Have your say

1200 characters left

By and large our readers' comments are respectful and courteous. We're sure you'll fit in well.
View commenting guidelines.

Sort by
  • Oldest

© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf05 at 09 Dec 2016 13:13:19 Processing Time: 964ms