Attempt to terminate CEO at first council meeting
THE future of the Maranoa Regional Council CEO hangs in the balance, after the termination of her contract was put to the newly elected councillors in their first ordinary meeting.
On Wednesday, April 22 council meeting, mayor Tyson Golder moved the motion to terminate Julie Reitano’s contract, with deputy mayor Geoff McMullen seconding the motion.
Mayor Golder cited the reason for moving to terminate the contract was that council would be taking a new path.
“It is always good in a new term to look for a new direction,” he said.
All councillors bar Cam O’Neil and Joh Hancock voted in favour of Cr Golder’s motion however the council postponed the decision to gather more information.
After the new council was sworn in last Thursday, April 16, Crs Golder and McMullen met with Ms Reitano, leading to the addition in this week’s agenda about her employment contract, despite her contract not ending for another two years.
Cr O’Neil challenged the mayor and questioned whether the meeting with Ms Reitano followed appropriate procedures.
“My concern on this particular element, is that you and the deputy mayor have acted on without the authority of the council,” he said.
“The local government Act is very clear and that it’s on the council’s authority to appoint or not to appoint a CEO.
“I have some real concerns that you and the deputy mayor did this, without raising it first with council.
“I don’t believe the appropriate processes have been followed.
“If I’m correct, April 16 was the first meeting of council and we met from 9-2pm, so I’m assuming this meeting happened after you had the opportunity with your councillors to first get a sense of their views.
“I’m learning about this meeting from this report and from The Western Star over the last 48 hours.”
Cr Hancock said she believed it would be irresponsible and disrespectful to the CEO and six new councillors that in their first meeting decide the fate of someone they had never worked with before.
“I think it’s irresponsible for us to make a huge decision at this time, when the community is facing a pandemic and going into uncertain times,” she said.
“Staff need stability and honouring the CEO contract would provide stability for this organisation.
“Mr Mayor I believe we need to honour the CEO existing contract because in your campaign you said there would be no sacking of staff members and to go with anything but an existing contract, would be breaking a promise you made to the community.
“I’d be happy to review her contract when it’s up, then make an informed decision.”
Cr McMullen clarified with council that he and the mayor sought legal advice and that everything was done above board.
Both said they wanted to extend the courtesy of speaking to Ms Reitano before it was brought to the boardroom.
“Just saying we may go in a different direction and I would of classed it as a courtesy initial conversation,” Cr Golder said.
He said that in the meeting with the CEO, he wasn’t speaking on behalf of council but had sought legal advice on whether a conversation should be had before it was brought to the council table.
Council will meet again on May 13. Discussion of the CEO employment contract will be moved into a closed sitting after they receive financial information.
The discussion will be reopened to the public and a decision will be finalised.