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COUNCILLOR CONFUSION OVER CEO LOYALITIES

ISSUE

Councillors who believe the CEO’s loyalties are with the previous council, need to understand that policies don’t automatically change after an election.

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SCENARIO

Following recent local government elections in a regional municipality, a new group of councillors have come into office with quite different policy ideas to those of the previous council. These councillors have become frustrated because the policies of the previous council continue unchanged for some time. They begin to express dissatisfaction with the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and believe that things won’t happen until they can appoint their own CEO.

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WHAT'S THE PROBLEM?

Councillors don’t believe that the CEO is committed to helping them achieve their goals. This sometimes happens when a new council has to work with a CEO who was appointed by a previous council. Councillors think things should change automatically as a result of their election, but don’t understand that the CEO is required by the Local Government Act 1989 to implement the policies which are in place ‘without delay’, and cannot put them on hold or implement a different policy until they are changed by council.

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HOW TO TACKLE THIS SITUATION

  • councillors and the CEO need to find a way to work together because it is not appropriate for every new council to appoint a CEO
  • councillors need to understand that policies only change as a result of a majority vote at a council meeting
  • new councillors should be briefed on how policies can be changed or implemented
  • councillors and the administration both need to understand the role of the council – it sets the strategic goals and the administration helps to achieve them
  • councillors need to understand the role of the administration – the relationship between the mayor and CEO is important in achieving this
  • everyone needs to understand that the entity of council continues unchanged from one council term to the next and it takes time and good processes to change policies and directions
  • councillors and the administration need to devote time and energy to the council planning process so that goals are understood and owned by all
  • council and the CEO need to agree on what the CEO is expected to deliver – this should provide a fair platform for the CEO’s performance appraisal

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