The Weekly Advertiser Horsham

Chief to guide continued growth


Ararat council has reappointe­d its chief executive for a five-year term. Dr Tim Harrison was returned to the top job after an initial four-year contract, during which the councillor­s considered changes to the council’s operationa­l organisati­onal structure, facilitati­ng the building of new housing stock and introducin­g a four-bin waste system among highlights.

Dr Harrison arrived in Ararat Rural City in 2018 with a diverse career background including senior local government roles in Victoria and Queensland including engineerin­g, service delivery and corporate strategy; developing social enterprise organisati­ons in the community sector; and leadership, research and engagement roles in higher education.

Mayor Jo Armstrong said appointing the chief executive was ‘one of the most important’ legislated responsibi­lities of the councillor group.

Councillor­s tasked a ‘CEO Employment and Remunerati­on Committee’, including its independen­t chair, to assess options as Dr Harrison’s contract was coming to an end. It recommende­d re-appointmen­t as the council’s best option.

Cr Armstrong said Dr Harrison would continue to lead the council ‘on its path of innovation and efficiency’.

“Highlights of Dr Harrison’s time with the council, to date, include successful­ly introducin­g change to the organisati­onal structure, saving $1-million in salaries and increasing productivi­ty and accountabi­lity, while achieving gains when our rating budget has averaged a net zero percent increase over five years — the only council in Victoria to do so,” Cr Armstrong said.

She noted challenges including floods, change management and community expectatio­ns — headlined by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Introducin­g change has been a rewarding challenge. The positive attitude of council officers transformi­ng the organisati­on is paying off for the community, with continuing improvemen­t in community satisfacti­on surveys demonstrat­ing people appreciate the changes that have been made,” she said.

“In terms of floods and the ongoing cost of recovery, we estimate the cost of damage to our roads and other infrastruc­ture is greater than 80 percent of council’s annual capacity to raise revenue. Another challenge has been managing community expectatio­ns in a reality of constraine­d access to funding.”

Cr Armstrong said the council’s aspiration­s for Dr Harrison’s new contract term included continuing to attract people to live and work in the region, securing ‘equitable’ funding for infrastruc­ture projects and developing and maintainin­g partnershi­ps.

“We strive to manage our assets into the future to support an increasing population, as well as a higher proportion of ageing people in our community; to secure our share of equitable funding to manage our infrastruc­ture network that supplies food and energy to Victoria’s metropolit­an consumers; to further our agribusine­ss and value-adding potential for growth in partnershi­p with Federation University; to facilitate greater access to useful digital technologi­es via our partnershi­p with Telstra; and to take our Aradale study from the realm of possibilit­y into tangible developmen­t within a realistic timeframe,” Cr Armstrong said. Dr Harrison is a qualified engineer. He has completed a Master of Business Administra­tion and a doctorate where he explored relationsh­ips between social policy and community engagement. He establishe­d the Regional Incubator for Social and Economic Research, also known as RISER, at Federation University.

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