At the MidCoast Council Meeting of 24 March, after only being in the position for 2 years and 9 months, General Manager, Adrian Panuccio, was re-appointed for a five year term commencing from 29 March 2021, with a salary package increase to $430,000.
Not a bad increase from his starting salary package of $350,000. One wonders how all the other Council employees must feel when we understand that their salaries are limited to an average increase of 2% per year?
The vote was 6 to 3 with Councillors Pontin, Fowler, Hutchinson, Smith, Roberts and West voting for re-appointment, whilst Councillors Epov, Bell and Christensen voted against.
The Manning Community News understands from several sources, that Mr Panuccio who was only two and a half years into a four year term, requested a review of his re-appointment back in January (immediately after the move into Masters warehouse), and that Mayor David West triggered the process without consulting Councillors as to whether they wanted to consider an early re-appointment.
No Performance Reports
Curiously, there have been no formal reports to Council on the General Manager’s Performance for two years, from the General Manager’s Performance Review Committee, which consists of Mayor David West, Cr Claire Pontin and Cr Karen Hutchinson, prior to the re-appointment process.
Cr Peter Epov did not support the re-appointment as he felt it premature.
“I had concerns over the process, and Council was under no obligation to make any such determination until December 2021 or January 2022.
Council has not received any formal reports relating to the GM’s performance covering his first two years.
There was insufficient time provided for a proper assessment, nor has there been a full review of the GM’s performance over the period that he has held that position.
As a principle, I am opposed to an outgoing Council deliberately re-appointing a General Manager for the next Council, it’s just not right, particularly when the incumbent is still under Contract. I also believe that a pre-mature re-appointment will not necessarily help the General Manager and the issue will now only trigger further unwanted controversy.”
During the period of administration, following the amalgamation, Administrator, John Turner, appointed Glenn Handford to a five year contract of over $450,000 per year.
“Under the resolution which was adopted by the six Councillors, the Mayor was charged by Council with the negotiation and settlement of the financial and other terms of the Contract, and whilst I understand the contract has been signed, to date, Cr West has not informed Councillors of all the terms,” said Cr Epov.
The Guidelines for the Appointment & Oversight of the General Managers issued by the Division of Local Government, Department of Premier and Cabinet states:
“An annual increase in the salary package, equivalent to the latest percentage increase in remuneration for senior executive office holders as determined by the Statutory and Other Offices Remuneration Tribunal, is available to the general manager under the Standard Contract on each anniversary of the contract. [This has been around 2% – Ed.]
Discretionary increases to the general manager’s total remuneration package under the provisions of the Standard Contract may only occur after a formal review of the general manager’s performance has been undertaken by the governing body of council and the governing body of council resolves to grant such a discretionary increase because of better than satisfactory performance. [Did all this happen? – Ed.]
Any discretionary increases should be modest and in line with community expectations. All discretionary increases in remuneration, together with the reasons for the increase, must be reported to an open meeting of council.” [Hmm – Community expectations? Were the reasons for the so called ‘discretionary increase’ reported to Council? – Ed]
One wonders how the move to Masters fits in???
The Local Government Act requires that the General Manager’s salary package and indeed that of Council’s Directors, should be published and be made publicly available.
All Council General Managers, are employed under a ‘standard’ or ‘model’ contract produced by the NSW Government, which effectively provides that should a current or incoming Council determine to discontinue with a General Manager then that Council would need to pay the General Manager 38 weeks salary. [We wonder which General Manager drafted that section? – Ed]
It will be interesting to see how an incoming Council deals with this issue and in the event that they should wish to go in a different direction, which Councillors will be held accountable for a payout of $314,236.77.