Library Closure Reinforces Confusion

Libraries have never been in control of Auckland Council’s local boards despite their capital and core operating budgets sitting within local board budgets.

So at one level, the decision by staff to close 31 libraries over the core Christmas/New Year period was unsurprising.

But the problem was that local boards have been “given” the delegation by the Governing Body for the “use of local libraries”, which includes the hours. Of course the Governing Body can impose a cut on library hours via the annual budget process as they sought to do in 2015 as the part of the Long Term Plan. But even then, local boards have the ability to use their funds to “top up” the budget and keep the hours open – as a number do.

So, the staff library hours-cut-plan failed on two fronts: it technically breeched delegations and, if it was a budget cut, boards weren’t asked if they were prepared to fund the difference.

This is just the latest and higher profile example of the governance confusion that still plagues Auckland Council 6 years after it was established.

A significant review of Auckland Council’s governance has been done and I will post later on that, but this wasn’t just a failure by someone of delegation reading. It was a continued misunderstanding and capability deficit around how the council’s two arms of governance are supposed to work.

Share this post!