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Another bonus for Council's General Manager?

This time last year we discovered that Eurobodalla Council had five senior staff positions during 2017-18. Four Directors were employed for 2017-18. Their combined total remuneration for the financial year was $948,882. We also discovered that the General Manager during this period had a remuneration package of $315,000. The disclosure of the General Manager's salary had been a long time coming since July 2017 when it was reported that Eurobodalla Shire Councillors gave Dr Catherine Dale a resounding endorsement at the Tuesday 13th June 2017 Council meeting when the results of her annual performance review and an extension of her contract were voted on. Council advised then that Dr Dale’s contract as General Manager had been extended for five years, commencing from 1 July 2017 with Mayor Liz Innes saying the vote "acknowledged Dr Dale’s outstanding achievements against the nine key performance indicators she was assessed on." A review panel comprising all nine councillors assisted by an independent facilitator assessed the General Manager against nine areas of governance, organisation leadership, community relations and communications, financial sustainability and budgeting processes, asset management, land use planning and applications, business development and tourism, community services, and risk management. While it is understood that the review was by self assessment it is also understood that the final determination was delegated by the councillors to the Mayor to finalise negotiations, delivering a on good report card with an very generous remuneration package. There remains continuing disappointment, distrust and consternation around Council's defiant reluctance to reveal the General Managers remuneration following notice of her contract being extended. Complaints to the Office of Local Government around the failure resulted in indifference saying Council was not obliged to release the information until it was convenient and in context to do so. The initial anger around the general Manager's reappointment process was the fact that, by her own advice, the Council meeting Agenda item for her Salary review, and possible reappointment, was disguised from view and the subsequent minutes were found wanting of detail or completeness. At the time the Councillors chose to ignore three well informed speakers who challenged the procedure prior to their going into confidential citing the Local Government Act. This failure of procedure on the part of councillors gained Council a letter of castigation from the Office of Local Government. Eurobodalla Council has still defiantly failed to carry out the very clear directive of the Division of Local Government, Department of Premier and Cabinet Guidelines For The Appointment & Oversight Of General Managers that states, in part: It is important that any decision by the governing body of council to renew a contract for the general manager and the term of that contract be reported back to an open meeting of council, together with the total amount of any salary package agreed to. and ... Any discretionary increases should be modest and in line with community expectations. All discretionary increases in remuneration, together with the reasons for the increase, must be reported to an open meeting of council. It took twenty months for the Eurobodalla community to discover that the General Manager's remuneration jumped by a staggering 6.1% from $296,866 to $315,000 - remember All discretionary increases in remuneration, together with the reasons for the increase, must be reported to an open meeting of council. That has NOT been done Up until this hefty jump in salary the General Manager was fortunate to also enjoy annual incremental rises above CPI with her salary in 2015 at $276,750, in 2016 at $283,669, in 2017 of $296,866 and now 2018 at $315,000. Well above the Group average of $303,225 and the $281,142 received by the Bega Valley General Manager. The results of this year's performance review should be known soon before Council breaks for summer. With just three meetings to go time is running out in 2019 and no doubt the councillors will be undertaking their annual General Manager performance review in coming weeks, if they haven't already done so.

Above: Eurobodalla Council's General Manager, Catherine Dale. Photo ESC

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