City leaders from around New Zealand have backed Tauranga Mayor Stuart Crosby's move to create a new, top level bureaucratic position.
Yesterday the Bay of Plenty Times reported Tauranga City Council (TCC) was advertising for an executive officer in a high-level advisory role, reporting to the mayor and deputy mayor.
The job would include supporting the mayoral suite in research, policy analysis and advice on strategies and legislation. The salary was expected to be between $80,000 to $130,000.
Former councillor Murray Guy was critical of the move, describing the position as a "spin doctor" and mayoral "back-watcher" tasked with making Mr Crosby look good.
Elected members also raised concerns and planned to meet with the mayor on Monday.
Mr Crosby told the Bay of Plenty Times the role was necessary after changes to the Local Government Act gave mayors greater powers and more responsibility.
The changes meant mayors around the country were legally responsible for driving council plans and budgets and could be held individually accountable for key decisions.
Mayors from cities similar in size to Tauranga have backed the job, saying central government expected "far more" from mayors .
Hamilton Mayor Julie Hardaker said growing cities such as Hamilton and Tauranga changed rapidly and it was a huge job for city leaders to be across everything. She said mayors had to make good decisions quickly and needed the support of policy and communications specialists.
"This kind of support, which is really a chief of staff sort of role, is vital these days in fast-growing cities," she said.
Ms Hardaker said she had five people supporting the mayoral office.
Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull said there was a need for mayors to have policy and communications support.
Mr Cull said he did not have one person advising him like Mr Crosby but relied on a team of 10 policy and six communications managers. TCC has 2.7 strategic planners and two policy analysts in its strategy group and five communication staff.
"... If you choose to have one individual doing it, like Stuart is seeking, then that is up to the council but one thing is certain, mayors need this resource to do the job properly," Mr Cull said.
A Local Government NZ spokesperson said councils such as New Plymouth had hired policy advisers and some were setting up offices to deal with the extra work that came after changes to the act.
Applications for the role close at 9am today. Mr Crosby could not comment on how many people had applied or if there were Bay candidates.
Local Government Act changes
Before: Mayor had to work with entire council to select political teams and structures.
Now: Mayor can now appoint deputy mayor and all committee chairs and determine the structure of council committees.
Before: Council made decisions on plans and budgets with councillors on equal footing with mayor.
Now: Mayor legally responsible for driving the setting of council plans and budgets.
Before: Mayor could potentially 'blame' unpopular decisions on councillors or council officers.
Now: Mayor's increased decision-making power makes him/her more individually and publicly accountable.
- Source LGNZ