Campaspe CEO's 'early separation'

Under the microscope: Murray River Council and Campaspe Shire Council chief executives Terry Dodds (left) and Declan Moore (right) — with mayors Chris Bilkey and Chrissy Weller — have both been involved in performance reviews in the past two weeks by their respective councils.

Campaspe Shire Council has confirmed it will part ways with chief executive Declan Moore with more than a year of his four-year contract remaining.

An unscheduled — and confidential — meeting of councillors with a single agenda item, the performance plan of Mr Moore, took more than two and a half hours to find a resolution a little over a week ago.

The reason for the extended meeting has become clearer after council said Mr Moore would not be continuing in the role.

Council said in a press release that: “negotiating an earlier separation gives council the opportunity to recruit and appoint a new CEO to oversee this significant undertaking and to assist council implement the findings, together with the many other plans, activities and services that council has on its program for the remainder of this term and into the next”.

Mayor Chrissy Weller acknowledged Mr Moore’s two-and-a-half-year tenure (he started in late 2019) for his service to the Shire of Campaspe, his navigation of the challenges that came with COVID-19 and his focus on delivering compliance in accordance with the new Local Government Act.

“We wish him all the best as he moves on to his next opportunity,” she said.

On April 20, when council conducted its monthly meeting, the chief executive performance plan agenda was not included in the meeting.

The special meeting to discuss the performance plan, which included discussion in regard to an “early departure’’, started at 6.04pm.

It was closed to the public at 6.07pm to address the performance plan and was not reopened to the public domain until 8.39pm.

Just what was discussed at the meeting can only be confirmed as “personal information, which if released would result in an unreasonable disclosure of information about any person or their personal affairs’’.

No details of the meeting have been made available and an approach to council’s communications department, in regard to any change of circumstance or some details of the performance plan, received the following written response: “It is not appropriate for the personal circumstances of staff to be discussed with the media. Our staff’s right to privacy is always respected.”

Across the river, at the Murray River Council, minutes from the April 26 monthly council meeting included an agenda item titled “chief executive officer performance mid-term review”.

The review, while not recorded in full in the minutes, did attract the following open council remarks: “that council congratulate the CEO Terry Dodds on his outstanding performance in the year under review and encourage his personal attention to the priorities in the Performance Agreement”.

It continued, “That the total remuneration package (TRP) of the CEO be revised as recommended by the CEO Review Panel”.

Campaspe Shire Council chief executive Mr Moore was appointed in late August, 2019, and attended his first council meeting in October.

Soon after, at the November 2019 meeting, present councillor Adrian Weston was elected as Mayor.

From the August 20 minutes, council’s resolution was to “appoint the chief executive officer Campaspe Shire Council for a fixed term of four years on such terms and conditions as agreed by council’s recruitment panel”.

Mr Moore took over from acting chief executive Ray Burton, following the resignation of its previous chief executive Jason Russell on April 12, 2019.

More than 50 applications were received for the role and council’s recruitment panel short-listed these applicants.

Mr Moore was among those interviewed on August 1 and August 5, with each of the short-listed applicants required to complete a number of tasks to confirm suitability against council’s desired person profile.

In the press release Mr Moore thanked council, staff and local communities for their tireless efforts in pursuing better community outcomes and improved services, but mostly for the opportunity to work with them.

“I have enjoyed my time with the shire and wish everyone the very best both personally and professionally,” he said.