Council axe falls on chief
Shire of Exmouth chief executive Bill Price has been summarily dismissed from his position after a closed special council meeting last Tuesday afternoon.
Councillors unanimously voted to terminate Mr Price’s contract “effective immediately”, based on advice from Shire solicitors.
Keith Woodward, the Shire’s engineering services executive manager, was appointed acting chief executive on November 18 while Mr Price took indefinite leave, and will remain in the role for the time being.
The chief executive’s dismissal follows last month’s Corruption and Crime Commission hearings into claims of serious misconduct at the Shire, which centred on the handling of a $1 million aquarium contract for the under-construction Ningaloo Centre.
Mr Price, who was one of four senior officers questioned, admitted to having awarded a Perthbased company the aquarium contract without putting it out to tender and then “misled” councillors by recommending that they engage the company when the contract had already been awarded.
He also admitted to several instances of misusing his Shire credit card.
Mr Price has been informed of the council’s decision. Shire of Exmouth councillors remain subject to a show cause notice issued by Local Government Minister Paul Miles on Friday, December 9, which requires them to respond within 21 days explaining why they should not be suspended for up to six months and have to undergo training.
They submitted their written response to the minister last Wednesday.
Shire of Exmouth president Turk Shales said councillors recognised they should have considered terminating Mr Price’s contract earlier but had been taking steps to address issues raised by the CCC investigation, including reviewing Shire policies and procedures and providing additional staff training.
“Exmouth Shire Council is taking the outcomes of the CCC investigation very seriously and are working hard to restore the community’s confidence in the Shire,” he said.
“The council, acting CEO and the executive management team are focused on the delivery of dependable, efficient governance and leadership.”
North West Central MLA Vince Catania said the situation called for Exmouth residents to look at ways of moving forward and improving their town.