By Michael Sinclair-Jones
TOODYAY’S new shire council has moved to strip CEO Stan Scott (right) of his power to hire and fire senior staff without council approval.
It set Mr Scott directly at odds with new Shire President Bill Manning who proposed after last October’s elections that the council should be involved in decisions about appointments to the shire’s highest-paid jobs.
Mr Scott is due to finish in July after failing last year to secure a longer contract following a former council decision last year not to renew his contract at all.
The resignation of former Cr Craig Brook prompted an acrimonious backflip involving three councillors who did not re-contest the October election, thus costing Mr Scott majority support on the new council.Read more
Mr Scott wrote a six-page report to last month’s council meeting urging councillors to reject President Manning’s proposal.
He said private industry supported a “clear separation of powers” between elected members and employed staff.
He quoted from a regional industry group submission that “it is imperative that there is a clear understanding by all of their responsibilities and boundaries”.
The WA Local Government Association (WALGA), which represents councils, and Local Government Professionals WA, which represents staff and of which Mr Scott is listed as Avon Branch Deputy President, supported this view too, he said.
However, both lobby groups failed last year to change local government law when the State Government withdrew its contested amendment to abolish council control over ‘Senior Employees’.
The roles of Corporate Services Manager Chileya Luangala, Planning and Development Manager Kobus Nieuwoudt, Works and Services Manager Scott Patterson and Community Development Manager Audrey Bell fall into that category.
None of them were previously designated in Toodyay as “Senior Employees”.
The shire’s latest annual report shows that each of the shire’s four senior managers earn $100,000-$130,000 a year, and Mr Scott gets $180,000-$190,000 a year.
Mr Scott said the overwhelming view of key industry bodies and the State Government was that the “Senior Employees” clause was an anachronism and should be removed.
He said it was still “likely to be removed” in future legislative amendments and recommended “that council NOT designate any employees as Senior Employees”.
‘Delving into administration’
Mr Scott’s recommendation was moved by Cr Brian Rayner and seconded by Cr Therese Chitty.
Cr Rayner said the current system had worked successfully for many years – changing it would result in the council “delving into administration”.
President Manning (left) said employing senior staff involved “important, critical decisions and I believe the council should have some say in those appointments and decisions”.
“It was put to Parliament to remove those provisions but didn’t get through despite being government policy,” he said.
Mr Scott’s recommendation to keep his power to hire and fire senior staff without council approval was lost 5-3 (Cr Ben Bell on leave), with only Crs Rayner, Paula Greenway and
Phil Hart backing Mr Scott.
Cr Greenway requested that the councillors’ names and votes be recorded in the minutes.
A second motion to designate the top four shire management roles as “Senior Employees” was moved by Cr Beth Ruthven and seconded by Deputy President Rosemary Madacsi.
Deputy President Madacsi said that if there was “friction or an issue thing when a person is dismissed” the council had a responsibility to become involved.
Cr Greenway said she disagreed.
Mr Scott said the change “amounts to a power of veto”.
His view was rejected 5-3 with President Manning, Deputy President Madacsi, and Crs Chitty, Ruthven and Hart voting in favour on the motion, and Crs Rayner, Greenway and Sue Pearce against.
Cr Greenway again asked that their names be recorded.