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Thursday, October 23, 2014

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Debates and discussions arise

John Cronin
BOP Regional Council Chairman
www.boprc.govt.nz

This year is an election year for local government and that means all sorts of interesting debates and discussions are taking place up and down the country.

A big focus is how we keep delivering services, and delivering them better, at the least cost.

This is not limited to councils … the economic climate dictates that all businesses, including public services, drive down their costs while delivering their ‘product'.

We all want our region, the Bay of Plenty, to grow and prosper, but we're compelled to do this on low or no funding increases.

So Bay of Plenty Regional Council is doing what most businesses are doing. They're looking at how they can be fully effective and efficient, while still delivering the wide range of services required by a variety of laws and agreements and demanded by their communities. 

In fact the chief executive Mary-Ann MacLeod has been instructed by council to have a close look at all spending and how the council can deliver to higher effectiveness at least costs. She has a strong commitment to this and great staff who every day do the best they can with the ratepayers' dollars.

We are seeing progress already. I've already seen how the executive leadership team has been streamlined while also being more accountable for what is delivered.

I've been impressed with how the regional council has shared services such as human resources, communications, IT and geospatial services with other councils in the Bay. By sharing services all councils have saved money and worked better together. It's exciting to know staff and managers are looking for more ways to share services and gain more efficiencies.  

More will be delivered this year under the council's programme banner of ‘doing business better'. It's a big year for managers and staff as they've promised to achieve greater efficiency and effectiveness in everyday work through a rolling programme of efficiency reviews.

When people talk about local government reform, the conversation is often about the same thing: what's the best governance model for our region that will achieve the highest productivity and efficiency? The ‘Rethinking Local Government Conference' today will be a good step for the Bay in sharing information and views, to help us prepare for change in whatever form it comes.

I'm really looking forward to this conference and the ideas it produces, and I'll update you in my next column.

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