Council and Gillard “part ways”
Federation Council and General Manager Chris Gillard have agreed to “part ways for the best interest of all parties involved”.
After an extraordinary meeting of Federation Council last week called by Mayor Pat Bourke, it was evident the working relationship between Mr Gillard and council was unlikely to continue and negotiations began to determine the future of his contract which ran until December 2020.
After initially remaining quiet on the progress of those negotiations, Federation Council confirmed in a statement released Tuesday afternoon that the General Manager was set to depart.
The statement did not reveal terms of the agreed departure, including any possible payout to Mr Gillard.
Federation Council Mayor Pat Bourke confirmed the negotiations had concluded and the parties had entered into a “confidential arrangement parting ways”.
“Federation Council is changing direction and believes a change in management in the position of General Manager is appropriate,” Mayor Bourke said.
“As councillors, it is our role to provide leadership and establish policy and the strategic direction for the organisation and the future of the council area.
“Council wishes to thank Mr Gillard for his service to council and its communities.”
Mr Gillard released a statement saying it had been “a great privilege to lead the new council”.
“I would like to take this opportunity to highlight the very hard work Federation Council staff undertake for the community,” Mr Gillard said.
“Over the past 18 months the work has been very challenging and each staff member has contributed to building a quality organisation.
“I would like to thank the staff and wish everyone well for the future.”
Federation Council confirmed Peter Gall will be Federation Council Acting General Manager until future notice
The working relationship between General Manager Chris Gillard and Federation Council began to unravel at an extraordinary council meeting on November 1, called by Mayor Pat Bourke.
At that meeting, council authorised its mayor and/or other designated persons to negotiate in relation to the General Manager’s contract of employment, on the motion of new councillors elected following the September 9 election, Cr Andrew Kennedy and Deputy Mayor Shaun Whitechurch.
Council’s resolution also stated the mayor may seek assistance from the Office of Local Government NSW and other designated persons, and legal representatives of Federation Council in relation to the General Manager’s contract of employment.
After the meeting, Cr Bourke told the media, which included the Free Press, that a lot of conversations were necessary about Mr Gillard’s contract.
“In the journey of a new council, which was a merged entity, it was a very tough job,” the mayor said.
“Council wants to look at a future direction it wants to take.”
Explaining his reasoning to the Free Press for calling last Wednesday’s meeting, Cr Bourke said: “I was approached by a number of councillors to clear the issue. There had been some animosity.”
Neither the mover nor seconder of last week’s motion would comment about anything to the Free Press about the subject.
Senior Industrial Officer with the Office of Local Government NSW, Ross Nassif attended the short, approximate 35-minute extraordinary council meeting which was held in-committee.
“The senior industrial officer will assist in negotiations on Mr Gillard’s contract of employment,” Cr Bourke said.
Upon the meeting’s closure, council again went behind closed doors, to further discuss Mr Gillard’s situation.
It is understood the extraordinary meeting’s resolution via a secret ballot behind closed doors was not unanimous but that the vast majority of councillors voted in favour of the resolution, to in effect, have Mr Gillard’s services terminated.
The Free Press believes it may have been a 6-3 vote in favour of the motion, with possibly Crs Paul Miegel, Gail Law and David Longley wanting to retain Mr Gillard’s services in view of comments they made in the lead-up to election day.
As from Monday, October 30, the General Manager was on leave and council’s Director Infrastructure and Environment Peter Gall was acting General Manager. He remains in the position.
Mr Gillard commenced duty as General Manager with Corowa Shire Council in 2013 and was made Interim General Manager of the newly created Federation Council as a result of the merger of Corowa and Urana Shires in May 2016.
His appointment as General Manager was confirmed by Federation Council Administrator Mike Eden last December, for a period of four years effective from May 2016, through to 2020.
Beforehand, Mr Gillard’s performance as Corowa Shire General Manager was endorsed under the reigns of Mayors Fred Longmire and Paul Miegel.
Since amalgamation of the two shires, the road has been a rocky one especially with the reduction in the number of former councillors appointed by the Administrator, Mike Eden, to the Local Representative Committee (LRC) ahead of the first Federation Council voting date of September 9, 2017 for councillors.
The LRC was established by Mr Eden in May 2016 with nine former councillors - four from the former Urana Shire and five from the former Corowa Shire - to act as a local advisory committee to the Administrator.
Not feeling sufficiently involved, listened to or consulted on council matters, the three northern end former Urana Shire councillors who included the last mayor of Urana Shire Council, Pat Bourke, resigned from the Local Representative Committee. Their departures were advised at council’s January 2017 meeting by the Administrator.
Just three of the original nine members remained and Cr Gail Law had been added to the team. Mr Eden subsequently increased the involvement of the four former councillors on council matters. But it seems the dye had been cast.
In the lead-up to the election, there was jockeying for slots on voting tickets. Many of the huge number of 41 councillor candidates shored up their strong feelings about issues and believed the ticket voting system was the better method to have one or members (Nos. 1 and 2 on the ticket) elected to best represent the Federation Council area. Three persons who stood independently, Crs Gail Law, David Longley and Paul Miegel were successful.
During the tenure of Mr Eden from May 2016 to September 2017, without elected councillors, he had a close working relationship with Mr Gillard.
At Federation Council’s inaugural meeting on September 26, Cr Bourke was voted in as mayor, winning the position over the only other candidate, Cr Miegel. Cr Shaun Whitechurch then won the deputy mayor’s position from Cr Miegel and Cr Law.
The now former Federation Council General Manager Chris Gillard.