AN Invercargill City councillor says she intends to resign as a controversial waste management contract divides councillors.
Cr Karen Arnold announced her intention to resign after a meeting about the contract on Wednesday last week.
The extraordinary meeting was predominantly focused on the controversial WasteNet contract, which has been held by Southland disability Enterprises (SdE) for the past eight years.
Invercargill Mayor Sir Tim Shadbolt used his casting vote to vote against a recommendation to take the contract away from SdE.
This was despite documents released by the Southland District and Gore District councils showing that awarding the contract to another provider could save $11 million over the next 16 years and produce a new automated facility.
Cr Arnold said while resigning had crossed her mind, it was Cr Toni Biddle’s motion to bring the debate and discussion to the public which confirmed her intention.
She said, specifically regarding the WasteNet contract, she had lost confidence in the current council’s decision-making process.
The vote on whether to approve the recommendation given to council on the preferred tenderer was motioned to be made in public, after there was concern over a lack of transparency.
Votes from councillors for and against the motion and recommendation were evenly split and were decided by Sir Tim.
The result was for Invercargill City Council to go against the recommendation.
Councillors listened to legal advice regarding making information public during a live tender process, which was why information had so far been kept under wraps.
Cr Arnold said it was about principle. “To make good decisions you have got to follow process.”
With Cr Arnold being on the WasteNet advisory group, she said she would be taking advice from chief executive Clare Hadley.
“I don’t want to jump ship early and compromise that.”
Council chief executive Clare Hadley said there were rules to be followed when elected members resigned – “The resignation must be in writing, and I must advise the Council of receiving a resignation at its next meeting. Council then has two options: leave the vacancy open, or appoint someone to the position.
“Given that we are in an election year, and the election period begins soon, it is likely that I would recommend Council leave the vacancy open, should a resignation be received.”