The city’s interim chief executive officer Leigh Auton is in town this week learning the lie of the land before he officially takes up the position on July 30.
The former Manukau City Council CEO turned down the opportunity to take a role in Auckland’s ‘super city’ and opened his own consultancy firm Auton & Associates.
Tauranga City Council interim CEO Leigh Auton.
As well as taking up the interrupted reorganisation of Tauranga City Council, Leigh is also part of the government task force given the job of sorting out the Kaipara issues after ratepayers recently threatened a revolt over high rates increases.
He’s been hired for six months to undertake the change process that former CEO Ken Paterson was working on when he died suddenly overnight on June 17-18.
“I’m here for three days, getting to know as many people as I can, beginning with the staff, so they know me and vice versa,” says Leigh.
“Change is always an unsettling process but I have done a number of those in different forms but each and every one has its own characteristics and challenges, and I’m reasonably experienced in terms of that.”
He expects to start by taking up where Ken left off, looking at the Morrison Low report and working with councillors in terms of what it means.
He’s expecting to complete the restructuring process after Christmas by helping the council find a new chief executive officer.
He’s says he not interested in the job himself.
“You can never say never,” says Leigh.
“All I can say is the council has to look at the type of person they want to lead for a long period of time. CEO contracts are for five years and the council has to assess the type of person they around that, and the relationship and length of time.
“In terms of me, I’ve had a career in local government, I’m at a certain stage in life and I enjoy local government. I’m attracted to this role and I can add value to it.”
There’s plenty of work coming up as the Government moves on with changes to local government. Leigh’s worked in councils around the country and rates the regional local government in the Bay of Plenty highly.
“This region and has done very well over a long period of time in terms of how it interacts with other organisations,” says Leigh.
“I was talking with some staff at Western BOP a couple months ago. This region has been and exemplar in terms of a lot of initiatives around local government. There’s a lot of good foundations there, so you are starting with a good base to do change.”