Governance Manual

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4.5.2 The mayor and the chief executive


  1. The chief executive is responsible to the governing body for the fulfilment of his or her functions. The chief executive, who is appointed and employed by the governing body [1], is responsible for employing council staff [2], implementing governing body and local board decisions, and providing advice to the governing body and local boards [3] 

  2. The relationship between the mayor and the chief executive is significant and important and is managed largely by convention. The style and frequency of contact develops according to the mayor’s preferences, but is governed by the following principles: 

    • The council operates effectively if the mayor and chief executive maintain a close working relationship based on mutual recognition of respective roles, dialogue and cooperation.

    • The mayor cannot direct the chief executive in the performance of his or her functions, except in relation to the establishment of the Office of the Mayor [4]. However, the mayor will represent the position of the council’s governance arm to the chief executive, including the governing body’s decisions the chief executive is required to implement.  The mayor may discuss governance issues with the chief executive as they arise. 

    • The relationship between the mayor and the chief executive is not a relationship of direct employment. The chief executive’s formal performance is the responsibility of the governing body or appropriate committee [5]. However, the mayor may informally raise issues relating to the chief executive’s role and performance with him/her, including concerns raised with the mayor by another elected member [6].

    • The chief executive ensures that council staff cooperate with and assist the mayor on issues directly concerning the mayor’s role.

    • The chief executive should be guided by a no surprises principle. He or she should inform the mayor (and other elected members where appropriate) promptly of significant council operational or service delivery matters, particularly where these matters may be controversial or may become the subject of public debate.

    • It is appropriate for the chief executive to discuss the advice he or she will provide the governing body or local boards with the mayor.

    • The chief executive should exercise judgement when deciding whether to inform the mayor of any matter for which the chief executive has statutory or delegated responsibility especially where it relates to regulatory decision-making. In all cases, both the mayor and the chief executive should act to maintain the independence and professionalism of the chief executive's (or his/her staff’s) decision-making process.

    • The mayor and chief executive should maintain a clear understanding on who is responsible for media or other public comment on particular issues.

  3. The mayor’s chief of staff and office will facilitate the relationship.

  4. The chief executive may make a complaint about the conduct of the mayor or other elected member by alleging a breach of the Code of Conduct [7].



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