Outspoken councillor Mike McVicker says he was gagged by his colleagues after being made to make a statement declaring he has an "open mind" during Annual Plan talks.
Councillors began three days of Rotorua District Council Annual Plan deliberations for the 2013/14 financial year yesterday.
However, Mr McVicker's place around the debating table was called into question when he made his own written and oral submission to the Annual Plan two weeks ago saying increasing debt levels and too many staff were damaging the organisation's credibility.
He said the best way to cut costs, and in turn debt, was to slash staff numbers - estimating 50 jobs should go.
Due to Mr McVicker's wide-ranging submission the council sought legal advice to ensure there would be no perceived conflict of interest, bias, or risk of predetermination during deliberations.
In a report to councillors, council chief executive Peter Guerin said legal advice stated Mr McVicker's submission did not constitute a conflict of interest, but there was a risk of predetermination or bias.
"That risk can be mitigated by having a formal statement by Mr McVicker at the commencement of decision making [for the Annual Plan]," the report stated.
Councillors voted 10 to 1 to allow Mr McVicker to continue but would not allow him to debate or vote regarding the three main points which made up his submission - staffing numbers, debt levels and airport marketing.
Mr McVicker had to tell councillors he "would carefully consider all submissions ... would carefully listen to the matters raised ... and consider them with an open mind".
He said he was effectively being gagged. "The majority were clearly against me speaking and consequently I could not debate or vote the issues fully.
"The issue of debt was debated and I have to register my frustration at listening to the chief executive provide the view that debt is not an issue. All the more annoying when I read the recommendation that a debt reduction programme be implemented - after I made the very recommendation in my written submission," he said.
Councillor Mark Gould was not happy with the decision. "It sets a bad precedent for the future. It means any councillor can bring any submission to the table and take part in it, and that's wrong."
Councillors instructed staff to come up with a formal policy regarding submissions made by councillors to avoid similar problems in the future.