MidCoast Council has adopted a strategy for the selection of a new general manager.
The January 24 extraordinary meeting, held at Forster Council Chambers, addressed the replacement of Glenn Handford, who submitted his resignation with an effective date of February 2, 2018. More than 40 residents were in attendance.
MidCoast Council mayor David West opened the meeting with a statement regarding the failed meeting of January 16, reiterating that due process was followed from the time Mr Handford resigned on December 20.
“The resignation of Mr Handford did not increase the urgency to call a meeting before the date that had previously been arranged at the last meeting of council, as there was no requirement for an acting general manager to be appointed until February 2,” mayor West said.
Speaker, resident David Poole, said the selection of the new general manager should focus on creating a better performing council, highlighting the importance of honest community engagement and transparency.
Cr Len Roberts moved the recommended process be approved, with a selection panel to undertake the RFQ (Request for Quotation) evaluation and recruitment process, made up of Cr West, Cr Katheryn Smith, a qualified person independent of council, and three councillors. He suggested councillors Troy Fowler, Karen Hutchinson and Claire Pontin for the panel, saying it was important to adopt a “fresh air approach”.
He also moved Steve Embry be appointed acting general manager as of January 24, until a permanent general manager was appointed, with Paul De Szell acting in his place if he was absent for more than two consecutive days. The motion was seconded by Cr Hutchinson.
Cr Peter Epov moved an amendment for a ballot system vote to choose the councillors for the panel, however the amendment was lost. Cr Hutchinson said it was a good notion, but the final decision would be made by all of council, not the panel.
There was unrest between councillors during the discussion, with some suggesting conversations occurred ‘behind closed doors’ prior to the meeting, excluding certain councillors from the decision.
The motion to adopt the recommendation put by Cr Roberts was carried.
A majority of councillors Smith, Christensen, Roberts, Pontin, Fowler, Hutchinson and West voted for. Councillors Epov, McWilliams, Bell, and Keegan voted against.