There’s no job recession at the Regional Council these days.

Currently advertised on the HBRC website are three communications positions, with salaries totaling $190,000 (that’s without the cost of benefits and other overheads, of course).

The Regional Council must believe it has some serious marketing problems! Perhaps it should start by looking at the product.

These positions are in addition to a consultant recently hired to develop a communications program for the Regional Council’s possible water harvesting program. I emphasize ‘possible’ because we told that this $150-$200 million project is still to be proven feasible. Hey, but it’s never too early to begin selling it to weary wary ratepayers.

An interesting choice of sales consultant in this case. The individual’s chief qualification (per a company website that indicates no experience designing public communications campaigns of this kind) is having conducted unspecified projects for Fonterra. Maybe the idea is to sell us the notion that CHB needs more dairy farming, requiring more water. In that case, I guess the HBRC appointment would kind of make sense.

Meantime, a proposal to improve public engagement that I submitted during the HBRC’s budget hearings, with proven public engagement benefit elsewhere in NZ, languishes. I proposed webcasting council sessions … making them available for viewing online, live or at your leisure. No money was provided for it. The concept is being ‘studied’. Maybe one of the Council’s $200k + assortment of new hires can accelerate the study.

Having investigated the costs myself (for the webcasting now offered by Taupo and New Plymouth councils), I can guarantee you that webcasting council sessions and other important presentations can be provided at a small fraction of the cost of hiring four more people to sell us the party line.

Of course, this is all considered small potatoes management stuff … your elected Regional Councillors sleep through it all.

Tom Belford

P.S. Don’t miss the Sep/Oct BayBuzz mag. You can read the entire magazine, just as it appears in print with photos and ads, using this excellent online reader. Or, you can go to the BayBuzz website to read particular articles and comment on them.

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