Role of the Mayor

The Mayor is elected by the district as a whole and as one of the elected members shares the same responsibilities as other members of the Council. In addition, the Mayor has the following roles: 

  • Ensuring the orderly conduct of business during meetings (as determined in the Council’s Standing Orders);
  • Advocate on behalf of the community by promoting the community and representing its interests.
  • Ceremonial head of the Council
  • Providing leadership and feedback to other elected members on teamwork and chairing committees.

The Local Government Act 2002 was amended in 2012 to provide the Mayor with additional powers: to appoint the deputy mayor, to establish committees and appoint chairs to them; to appoint him/herself as the chair of a committee, and to provide leadership in the development of the long term plan, the annual plan, policies and budgets. Nothing in the amendment prevents the Council from exercising its powers under clauses 18, 30 and 31 of Schedule 7 of the Act.

Role of the Deputy Mayor

The Deputy Mayor may be appointed by the Mayor. The Deputy Mayor exercises the same roles as other elected members. In addition, if the Mayor is absent or incapacitated, or if the office of Mayor is vacant, then the Deputy Mayor must perform all of the responsibilities and duties, and may exercise the powers of the mayor (as summarised above).

The Deputy Mayor may be appointed by the Mayor and may be removed from office by resolution of the Council. 

Role of Elected Members

The Mayor and the councillors of the South Wairarapa District Council have the following roles: 

  • Setting the policy direction of Council
  • Monitoring the performance of Council
  • Representing the interests of the district (on election all members must make a declaration that they will perform their duties faithfully and impartially, and according to their best skill and judgment in the best interests of the district)
  • Employing the Chief Executive (under the Local Government Act the local authority employs the Chief Executive, who in turn employs all other staff on its behalf).

Role of the Committee Chairperson

The Council or the Mayor may create one or more committees of the Council. The Mayor may appoint committee chairpersons or they may be appointed by the Council using the processes prescribed in clause 25 of Schedule 7 of the Local Government Act 2002.

A committee chairperson is responsible for presiding over meetings of the committee, ensuring that the committee acts within the powers delegated by the Council, and as set out in the Council’s governance structure. A committee chairperson may be removed from office by resolution of the Council. 

Elected members have specific obligations under the following legislation: 

  • Schedule 7 of the Local Government Act 2002 which includes obligations to act as a good employer in respect of the Chief Executive (clause 36) and to abide by the current code of conduct (clause 15) and standing orders (clause 27);
  • the Local Authorities (Members’ Interests) Act 1968 which regulates the conduct of elected members in situations where there is, or could be, a pecuniary interest (either direct or indirect);
  • the Secret Commissions Act 1910 which prohibits elected members from accepting gifts or rewards which could be seen to sway them to perform their duties in a particular way;
  • the Crimes Act 1961 regarding the acceptance of gifts for acting in a certain way and the use of official information for private profit;
  • the Financial Markets Conduct Act 2013 promotes informed participation in the financial markets. It places elected members in the same position as company directors; they may be personally liable if investment documents such as a prospectus contained untrue statements;
  • the Public Records Act 2005 provides a framework to keep central and local government organisations accountable by ensuring records are full and accurate, well maintained and accessible.
  • the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 imposes duties on the Council and councillors in respect of health and safety.

All elected members are required to adhere to a code of conduct.

Management structure and elected member relationship

The Local Government Act 2002 requires the Council to employ a Chief Executive whose responsibilities are to employ other staff on behalf of the Council, to implement Council decisions and provide advice to the Council. 

Under the Local Government Act 2002, the Chief Executive is the only person who may lawfully give instructions to a staff member. Any complaint about individual staff members should therefore be directed to the Chief Executive, rather than to councillors. 

Division of responsibility between the Council and Management

A key to the efficient running of any council is that there is a clear division between the role of elected members and that of management. The Local Government Act 2002 sets out a series of governance policies that support the principles of local government. This Local Governance Statement clarifies the governance and the management responsibilities, the governance role and expected conduct of elected members, describes the effective, open and transparent processes used by the Council, ensures separation of regulatory and non-regulatory responsibilities and explains the good employer requirements.

The following roles have been identified for both elected members and staff:

Governance Role

  • Defining the purpose and mission of SWDC
  • Setting strategy for SWDC
  • Decision making based on advice from Management Team and Officers
  • Advocacy on behalf of the district
  • Listening and reading
  • Leading by examples with agreed values and behaviours
  • Empathy with others
  • Collective responsibility
  • Ensuring management do their job
  • Voicing opinion and advice

Management Role

  • Advisory role in agenda, reports and communication
  • Implementation of policies, strategies and delivery of work
  • Providing professional and technical skills
  • Legal and regulatory role – enforcing
  • Provision of services
  • Financial stewardship and reporting
  • Customer friendly interface
  • Provide information
  • Planning and asset management

It is important to get the boundaries right between the governance role of elected members and the management role of officers. Elected members should be cautious about getting involved in operational matters and should leave the day to day management to staff while they focus on the strategic, governance and advocacy parts of their role.

Governance-focused elected members will:

  • Be actively focused and involved on district vision outcomes and strategic direction.
  • Work with staff as one using the problem solving approach and mutual respect.
  • Convey its lead role as direction setters with the community.
  • Ensure community initiatives be kept tightly framed up for focus and outcomes are agreed.
  • Know that operational matters are the responsibility of officers and management team.

Officers will:

  • Ensure action items are researched, reported on in a timely manner and resolved, with little re-invention/re-exploring.
  • Determine whether community board and councillor requests and comments are relevant and appropriate so scarce time is not overspent on wrong/low priority areas.  
  • Work towards more seamless service advice and delivery for developers, policy, and community outcomes.

While many of the Council’s functions have been delegated, the overall responsibility for ensuring effective systems of internal control are set up and followed ultimately rests with the Council. Internal control includes the policies, systems and procedures established to provide measurable assurance that specific objectives will be achieved.

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