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Councillors question GM’s performance review process

Geoff Helisma |

At the April 23 Clarence Valley Council meeting it became apparent that several councillors wanted consideration given to how the general manager’s performance review is conducted.

However, councillors are bound by the Office of Local Government (OLG) guidelines, which the mayor, Jim Simmons, outlined in his mayoral minute to the meeting.

The review panel’s results are initially tabled “in a closed session [where] the findings and recommendations” are reported to councillors, but “this should not be an opportunity to debate the results or re-enact the performance review of the general manager”, the OLG guidelines state.

The performance review panel is comprised of councillors Simmons, Jason Kingsley, Richie Williamson and Peter Ellem.

Councillors not on the panel were invited to provide feedback prior to the midterm assessment, which was held on Thursday March 21 – the assessment is confidential.

At the council meeting, Cr Karen Toms attempted to add an extra point to the mayor’s recommendation, to “note the General Manager’s Mid Term Assessment for 2018/19”.

She moved an amendment: “That council change the process of the general manager’s performance review including council’s contract supplier if warranted for 2019/20 to ensure all councillors are included in the general manager’s self appraisal.”

Councillor Kingsley moved a point of order and said Cr Toms’ amendment was “not appropriate”.

Councillor Andrew Baker called a point of order, too, calling out the “process” and arguing Cr Toms should have brought a notice of motion, rather than amending the mayor’s motion to note the review.

The mayor momentarily adjourned the meeting, took advice from director Laura Black and allowed the amendment, which after some informal discussion was reworded to read: “Review the process of the General Manager’s performance review including Council’s contract supplier if warranted for 2019/20.”

During questions, Cr Baker asked the mayor, “Without using names, were there many submissions by councillors regarding the current review?”

The mayor said he’d received one submission and had been approached by another councillor.

At this point, Cr Greg Clancy asked to go into confidential session “to have the process and report supplied explained to us; I find it very confusing and need it to be explained to me … I’m not prepared to vote until then”.

That “procedural motion” was supported by all councillors except Cr Arthur Lysaught, which meant that Cr Toms’ amendment was not further considered.

The result of the confidential session: the mayor’s original motion to “note” the assessment was supported by all councillors except Cr Deborah Novak.