Seven senior staff at Rotorua Lakes Council can now call themselves deputy chief executives, and one has had a minimum $40,000 pay rise.
Another deputy chief executive is undergoing a salary review.
The move has been described as "unbelievable" and “laughable” by a former Rotorua mayor, who says he believes there is little chance the change will enhance services to ratepayers.
A local government expert says it represents a “detachment from reality”, but a local government managers representative says the new titles are based on outcomes instead of functions.
Council chief executive Geoff Williams said there was an “organisational realignment” under way, which was an “exciting opportunity” to create a more adaptable and responsive organisation.
Five of the seven deputy chief executives were formerly referred to as “group managers”. One was formerly the manager of the chief executive's office, but now holds the title of "deputy chief executive, chief executive's group".
One salary increased due to a "significant change in responsibility", a council spokeswoman said.
The spokeswoman would not say who received the pay increase, nor specifically how much it was.
However, the council did reveal what salary band the person was previously in, and what band they were now in.
“The band the person was in was $140,000 - $159,999 and they moved to band $200,000 - $279,999.”
This meant at a minimum, the pay rise was just over $40,000 and at a maximum, nearly $140,000.
Salary adjustments were due to a role including “increased responsibility for developing and overseeing strategic outcomes”, much more so than in the person’s previous role, the spokeswoman said.
In a written statement, Williams said the impacts of Covid-19 had changed the way the council worked and what the community expected of the council.
That was “alongside a need for a co-ordinated all-of-government approach to addressing local challenges”.
“There is an increased expectation for [the] council to play a strong leadership role, build our economy and promote community wellbeing.”
He said the council was undertaking “organisational realignment” changing its approach and its way of working to meet the community’s needs.
“As a result, [the council] is moving from the existing group structure (business support, infrastructure, operations, and strategy) to align with six key outcome areas, plus the chief executive’s group, each headed by a deputy chief executive.
“This is an exciting opportunity for us to create a more adaptable and responsive organisation that is capable of delivering real value for our community, in a highly uncertain environment.”
The council spokeswoman said the proposed new structure was shared with the organisation on March 29 and was in a feedback review process as it worked to finalise the details of what each of the outcome areas would be.
“The deputy chief executive roles reflect enhanced responsibility and accountability, moving from managing services to being responsible for achieving the strategic outcomes for each area.”
Former titles, such as chief financial officer, and their functions were incorporated into the new deputy chief executive titles, she said.
Former Rotorua mayor Grahame Hall said the new deputy chief executive titles were in his view “unbelievable” and he believed it would be “costly and confusing” for ratepayers.
"The primary role of staff is ultimately to serve the ratepayers and it is hard to imagine that a name change will improve their output.”
Hall, who was mayor of Rotorua from 1992 to 2004 said when it came to salary reviews, there was “a lot attached to a name” and the costs associated with designated name changes were “not insignificant”.
He said in his opinion: "The latest move is commonly called corporate creep and it is laughable in a comparatively small organisation like our council.”
Massey University local government expert Andy Asquith said the move, in his view, looked “questionable” and sent “a very negat...