Administrator role a positive one for Kneipp
IT’S the end of an era for Michael Kneipp, whose role as Dubbo Regional Council administrator came to a close with the installation of 10 new councillors.
In many ways, it’s been a long and challenging 16 months for Mr Kneipp (pictured inset), who stepped into the role when the former Wellington and Dubbo City councils were forced to merge in May 2016.
“My time as administrator has ended,” he confirmed a day after Cr Ben Shields took the reins as the amalgamated region’s first Mayor.
“It was certainly exciting,” he said of his experience. “It was also a huge learning curve. And a great privilege to be shaping the new Council.”
Some of the highlights for Mr Kneipp have included seeing the new Council elected and staff appointments. And he says many people have been good to him.
“The five directors and staff, they are a remarkable team.
“The Dubbo community has been very fantastic, both as a collective and as individuals.”
Mr Kneipp has also relished the opportunity to work with higher tiers of government to achieve investment in the region.
“I have been very privileged and it’s been great to have the support of the State and Federal governments, the Federal government investing in the airport and the State government in the hospital and to have the Rural Fire Service training centre represents a huge injection of money.
“The biggest announcement has been the XPT Service Centre. That’s going to be monumental.”
The greatest challenge faced by Mr Kneipp was knitting the two communities in the face of opposition.
“They were not very happy over the merger. And while the amalgamation was taking place, overcoming the resistance that came from both communities was difficult,” Mr Kneipp said. “Both communities had strong feelings to remain separate – that early hostility was one of the biggest challenges.” As a family man, Mr Kneipp is now looking forward to spending some more time with his children and grandchildren. He will also focus on running his business Bush Solutions, and fitting in some bushwalking time on weekends.
“One of the things I found very demanding was the amount of reading you had to do, and going back to staff to clarify. I will now be able to do some more bushwalking. I also have my own corporate training business, and have a couple of clients. And I will spend a little bit of time with family, including my new granddaughter.”
His advice to the new councillors is simple: to keep in mind that they have a $214M budget and a huge organisation in their hands.
“They are making decisions that influence investment in development. The focus is on employment, and continuing development in Dubbo and villages in an equitable way. The challenge is to make decisions based on the entire Dubbo Regional Council. They do have a very big influence on the Dubbo economy and taking that into consideration.”