Rotorua Lakes Council is making a swift $10,000 change to plug a legal gap due to changing the titles of its group managers to deputy chief executives.
The title changes were made in March as part of what the chief executive Geoff Williams called an "organisational realignment" which he has said will result in better outcomes and stronger leadership for the council.
At its monthly meeting on Thursday, Rotorua Lakes Council unanimously agreed to confirm the chief executive Geoff Williams could exercise his general delegation in the council's Resource Management Act (RMA) delegations manual.
The manual is a document which sets out the delegation of authority under the Resource Management Act, such as reviewing consents.
Delegations in the manual included those for the strategy group manager, operations group manager, manahautū Māori, infrastructure group manager and chief financial officer. These roles were now all deputy chief executive roles.
The agenda for Thursday's meeting stated the replacement of the chief executive for those delegations was necessary where there was "no longer, under the council's new management structure, a council officer holding the position title identified in the manual".
It was an interim measure until a proper review of the manual could be undertaken.
"A review of the RMA Delegations Manual will take time to complete. In the meantime, the exercise of delegated powers, duties and functions needs to continue."
Neither of two reports prepared for elected members on the interim change mentioned the words "group manager", "deputy chief executive" or "organisational realignment".
In the meeting, district development deputy chief executive Jean-Paul Gaston said the council had changed its structure and titles "so our manuals need to be updated".
"For the removal of any doubt, we just wanted to reclarify the chief executive is your employee and will sign off all resource consents or … [provide] oversight [of] all of those processes related to the RMA."
He called it "very much just an administrative double, double, underline that it's the chief executive's responsibility".
The change was recommended then approved unanimously at committee and council meetings with no discussion from elected members.
When Local Democracy Reporting asked, outside the meeting, if the change of titles to deputy chief executive was why the change needed to be made, Gaston confirmed it was:
"'GM' in the RMA delegations manual refers to group manager so the interim change was sought while the delegations were reviewed."
He said regardless of the job title changes, it was time for a full review of the RMA delegations.
"Reviews are undertaken periodically to ensure ongoing compliance with legislation and this current review will be undertaken across the next few months."
However, in the report for the October 14 Strategy Policy and Finance Committee prepared by Tomkins Wake lawyers Sandra North and Theresa Le Bas explained:
"Following the recent refinement of [the] council's management structure, a number of position titles in the delegations under the Resource Management Act 1991 Manual (RMA Delegations Manual) no longer match position titles in the new management structure.
"The RMA Delegations Manual therefore needs to be reviewed to incorporate the new position titles in the Management Structure."
Asked what the period between reviews of the RMA delegation manual normally was, Gaston said minor variations were made as required when new legislation came into effect, and full reviews were usually done "every few years", the last one having been done in 2017.
Gaston said the council dealt with about 60 different laws and regulations and it was normal practice to seek advice and expertise regarding delegation changes to ensure legal compliance.
"Legal work in relation to the interim change and full review of the RMA delegations manual is expected to cost an estimated $10,000."