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Clarence Valley Council’s general manager, Ashley Lindsay. Image; Contributed

CVC’s GM set for $14k pay rise

Geoff Helisma

Clarence Valley Council’s general manager, Ashley Lindsay, received a “positive” review of his performance over the past six months and was set to receive a pay increase at yesterday’s CVC meeting (after the Independent went to press).

Mayor Jim Simmons recommended increasing the GM’s Total Remuneration Package by five per cent; from $283,668 to $297,852, effective from March 23, 2021.

“Overall”, the review panel – the mayor, Jim Simmons, deputy mayor Jason Kingsley, Cr Richie Williamson and Cr Peter Ellem – was “more than satisfied with the performance of the general manager, acknowledging performance above expectations in many areas”.

“Following the difficult year that 2020 was, the general manager has demonstrated leadership in ensuring the organisation continues to deliver against its operational plan,” Cr Simmons wrote in his mayoral minute, “while also delivering significantly more capital outcomes relating to the additional funding received throughout 2020 than was projected in the original budget.”

Theoretically, councillors are prevented from discussing the GM’s performance review at a council meeting.

“This should not be an opportunity to debate the results or re-enact the performance review of the general manager,” states the Office of Local Government’s (OLG) guidelines for the appointment and oversight of general managers.

“The panel should report back to the governing body of council in a closed session.”

“Councillors who were not on the panel were invited to provide feedback on the GM’s performance prior to the assessment,” Cr Simmons wrote in his mayoral minute.

“Feedback was received and discussed by the panel as part of the review; the feedback was positive and acknowledged the GM’s increased workload over the past six months.”

Speaking with the Independent, Cr Simmons said Mr Lindsay had “met and exceeded the expectations of the performance review panel”.

He said Mr Lindsay “has not received an increase, other than normal [increases] each year, in accordance with the award”.

Councillor Simmons said salaries paid to general managers of other “equally sized” councils are “well over” Mr Lindsay’s current package of $283,668; Clarence Valley’s population is 51,662 people.

Richmond Valley Council (population 23,465) paid its GM $313,090.88 in the 2019/20 years; Coffs Harbour City Council (population 77,280) paid its GM $366,147; Armidale Regional Council (population 30,779) paid its CEO $263,991.45; and, Glenn Innes Severn Council (population 8,871 people) paid its GM $263,991.45.

“Shortly, when Ashley retires,” Cr Simmons said, “the new council will have to advertise for and appoint a new general manager.

“Other than that they will have to provide information about [a new GM’s salary.] – I believe the review panel has been responsible in their addressing of this issue.

“They could have brought [the GM’s propose salary] up to an amount equivalent to Ballina council’s [$333,259, population 44,628].

“I believe the [panel] exercised restraint, having regard to general manager remuneration at other councils in the area, which are considerably higher.

“One of the factors [considered] was the extra workload as a result of the bushfires and Covid.”

The mayor wrote in his mayoral minute that “the panel and councillor feedback received for consideration at the performance assessment supports a 5 per cent increase”.

“Clause 8.3 of the GM’s contract provides as follows: Council may, on only one occasion during each year of this contract, approve an increase in the total remuneration package where the employee’s performance has been assessed in accordance with a performance review as being of a better than satisfactory standard.”

A confidential copy of the GM’s annual performance assessment, with aggregated ranking, was provided too councillors.