Community advocate Salima Padamsey says a damning official report on the KCDC shows its mismanagement has caused the problems which are now punishing Library readers.
She says in June 2019, Council received a report, commissioned from Morrison Low, an Australian Management consulting firm, regarding the need to close the Waikanae Library.
The report found:
- Systemic and organisational flaws in reporting, and record keeping.
- A dysfunctional culture within Council, which made decisions without first seeking the necessary information on which to base those decisions.
- The Council had all the information required to act earlier, but chose not to.
( as a result of the huge extra costs, the Council has decided to slash the Libraries’ book budget by nearly half to help pay for the damage.)
‘The report’s methodology fails to hold anyone to account. Instead of identifying individuals with direct line management, even by job description, the report refers to the Senior Leadership Team – a general group of managers,’ says Ms Padamsey.
‘Senior local government management is a very tight-knit shop. Those who fail in one local authority normally move on to another, simply because they are never held accountable – never.
Can ratepayers have confidence?
Can ratepayers have confidence in Council management and its operations given such a debacle was allowed to occur, resulting in a rebuild cost of approximately $2 million.
It only begs the question what the planned organisational review will reveal. We only now have a revealing glimpse into why KCDC is the second most indebted Council in NZ.
The report also explains that library staff, exposed daily to the toxins, gained an impression that “there was no money…” and that, staff did not analyse, collate or report it to create a “full picture of the true cost” to remedy the leaky building environment.
This seems an unjust attempt to sheet blame onto the affected staff, as opposed to the Council’s corporate manager(s) of the property portfolio.
For starters, councils always have money – lots of it. It is simply a matter of choosing where to spend it, in other words, prioritising.
The Council’s management clearly did not prioritise the health and safety of its Waikanae library staff – that is a plain and simple fact, given what has now come to light.
Questions that need answers
+ How many make-overs has Mahara Place itself had in the decade since these building issues were first reported?
+ How many land acquisitions has the council made in this past decade?
+ How did the council find the extra money to complete the Aquatic Centre when Mainzeal went bust?
This list of expenditure on ‘other nice-to-have things’ over the past decade is truly vast.
A final and important point the report makes is that Council has a significant loss of institutional knowledge due to high staff turn-over, and very poor record keeping. KCDC was aware that the Office of the Ombudsman had concerns regarding their ability to maintain records in line with the Public Records Act. 4 years later, it still remains an issue.
As constituents of the district, that pay 28 million dollars a year in staff salaries, we deserve better.
The tragedy will be if Councillors accept this report without demanding answers and accountability of the Senior Leadership Team. It is election year, we should keep our eyes peeled to see who is working for us to ensure that the costs that have been incurred from this fiasco, will not happen again.