Lismore council’s interim GM takes over the reins
New Lismore mayor Vanessa Ekins has laid blame on a number of variables including "a tough two years," and COVID-19 behind the decision to terminate the former general manager.
At a media conference at Lismore City Council offices today, Cr Ekins introduced Michael Donnelly as the caretaker general manager.
Mr Donnelly, whose CV includes time as the regional director of NSW Public Works for the North Coast of NSW, said he only found out he had the job this morning.
"I was contacted three says ago to ask would I be willing to consider if I would step in if council makes a decision," he said.
"I had no idea until I received a call this morning, I have only been here a few hours.
"It's an opportunity for me to carry on the good work the previous general manager has done.
"There's a lot of good things under way … I am certainly impressed by the attitude of the staff and my first impression to people of Lismore."
Mr Donnelly said all he knew about the council's state of financial affairs, "was what he has read in public media."
"I do not think that Lismore is in any way any worse off than other local governments in NSW," he said.
"I have not seen the books but I suspect all local governments in NSW are in a similar position."
Mr Donnelly said he had no fear of suffering a similar fate to Ms Oldham.
"I am only an interim, council have made it quite clear (it) will go through a formal recruitment process for a new general manager," he said.
Mr Donnelly said his family has been in the region since 1853 and he grew up in Lismore before working in law and engineering roles across the globe.
As the media conference continued, the new mayor was inclined to argue over a matter of semantics regarding the former general manager's method leaving the organisation.
"Shelley was not sacked," said Cr Ekins.
"Her contract was terminated."
Cr Ekins said it was a "unified decision by all councillors" to end the contract.
"We came to a united decision," she said.
"There was one councillor who abstained (from voting) but this is confidential.
"We have had discussions with the (previous) general manager over several months over this no fault clause."
Cr Ekins also confirmed neither she, council or Mr Donnelly had been in contact with the NSW Minister for Local Government, Shelley Hancock.