Council bosses Feel-ey the love


Queenstown council’s general managers have hit back at ‘unsubstantiated chat’ their top team is in disarray.

Six department chiefs working under chief executive Adam Feeley have quit in the two turbulent years since the savage 2013 restructure.

Only two remain from the original eight, while two others have joined the team as replacements.

But the resignations are not a result of pressure from cutting the cloth too thin, corporate services boss Meaghan Miller says.

And suggestions chief executive Feeley is the boss from hell are baloney, she adds.

“There has been some coverage and unsubstantiated chat in the community about the health of the leadership team,” Miller says.

“That isn’t a concern for us whatsoever.

“Some of those roles were only transitional and others have left to progress their careers.”

Those out the door were operations GM Ruth Stokes, infrastructure GM Erik Barnes, human resources GM Beth Bundy, legal/regulatory GM Scott Carran, chief information officer Kirsty Martin, and planning/infrastructure GM Marc Bretherton.

The revolving door’s moved so fast Bretherton’s still listed as staff on the council’s website.

Bretherton’s been replaced by Tony Avery, three days a week, with a full-time appointment planned.

Barnes was replaced by property/infrastructure boss Peter Hansby - who has to scribble his new role on business cards.

They joined long-servers Miller and finance boss Stewart Burns on the management team.

Burns says: “The situation has been assessed each time a GM moves on.

“Our strategy has been we’d rather invest in the tier three senior managers for a number of reasons, including succession planning.”

Council staff numbers are actually much higher than those suggested by the review.

The review projected the authority would need the equivalent of 204 full-time staff this year. It has 220 and needs 242.

That’s down to the resort boom - most of the additional staff are in the planning department dealing with a flood of resource and building consents.

That means the wage bill costs are directly recoverable, Burns says.

The council has also authorised a $1.2 million increase on the wage bill, to $17.6m in 2016, to meet demand.

Burns says: “There were a lot of issues through that two-year period after the review, a lot of change.

“It was distracting. It wasn’t all forward-thinking and there were a lot of people feeling a loss of some kind because the organisation’s identity had changed.

“We’re through that now.

“Those issues have dissipated and we’re looking forward.”

As would be expected, the remaining managers also back Feeley, former head of the Serious Fraud Office.

Poacher turned gamekeeper Miller, who’s been with council 13 years after working a decade as a journalist, says he’s a pleasure to work for.

“During my time at council the best thing that has happened to the organisation is Adam Feeley.

“Yes, he expects value for money and yes he holds us very accountable but we know exactly where we are.”