Council GM lasts a mere three weeks

Drama at Glamorgan Spring Bay Council continues with the acting General Manager appointed last month quitting after just three weeks.

Council will now have to recruit another general manager, after Chris Schroeder resigned earlier this year just six months into his contract.

The East Coast View reported last month that Mr Ian Pearce had been appointed acting General Manager following Mr Schroeder’s resignation.

However he suddenly quit citing health reasons and the potential impacts of COVID-19.

An accountant contractor, Marissa Walters has now been appointed acting general manager. Ms Walters has worked with the council for three years.

The Council has been reeling from month to month following a scathing report into the way it conducts its business.

As part of a Statement of Expectation project, two highly respected former local government identities investigated the workings of the council and reported a litany of shortcomings and made urgent recommendations.

The report criticised both elected members and senior staff.

Meanwhile, the Australian Services Union, which represents local government staff, has written to council on a range of human resources issues and raised renewed concerns about conflict of interest issues.

The union has quizzed council on the number of resignations in the past five years and the number of workers compensation claims.

The Council did not answer these questions because it was “a personnel matter’’.

Also questioned were the rental arrangements between Mr Pearce and the owner of a Triabunna property.

The union asked if when acting as general manager Mr Pearce rented a property in Victoria Street, known as Victoria Cottage, owned by Michelle Wrigley, the sister-in-law of Mayor Wisby.

Ms Walters said Council had at its April 9 meeting agreed to reimburse Mr Pearce for any accommodation costs incurred.

“Mr Pearce was responsible for organising his own accommodation requirements however it is understood that Mr Pearce required only one night’s accommodation during his tenure as acting general manager and was unaware at the time of booking the accommodation that there were any potential conflicts of interest,’’ Ms Walters said.

“Mr Pearce worked remotely, due to COVID-19, for the remainder of his employment with Council. Any trips to the Council office, by Mr Pearce during that time did not require overnight accommodation.’’

Meanwhile the Statement of Expectations report, compiled by former Meander Council General Manager Greg Peerce and former Flinders Island mayor Lynn Mason will be sent to the Director of Local Government.

In some of the report’s findings the council was criticised for:

  • Not having a completed Strategic Plan, a Long Term Financial Plan, or a current Asset Management Plan;
  • It found Council was non-compliant with the Local Government Act;
  • Council did not have a Risk Management system, plan or process in place which as a result left the Council and general manager extremely vulnerable to litigation and damage claims; and
  • Council had no Key Performance Indicators established for the general manager, making it difficult to hold him accountable.

Local Government Minister Mark Shelton said he and the Director of Local Government were “monitoring the situation closely to ensure that essential services are being delivered’’.

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