Councils to share one chief

Jacinta CantatoreHarvey-Waroona Reporter
Murray shire president David Bolt, Murray-Waroona chief executive officer Dean Unsworth and Waroona shire president Mike Walmsley.
Camera IconMurray shire president David Bolt, Murray-Waroona chief executive officer Dean Unsworth and Waroona shire president Mike Walmsley. Credit: supplied

In a move set to reduce costs to ratepayers and streamline procedures, the shires of Waroona and Murray have agreed to appoint a joint chief executive officer.

Both councils endorsed the proposal at individual special council meetings last week, with Shire of Murray chief executive officer Dean Unsworth appointed as joint Murray-Waroona CEO.

The councils entered into a 12-month Memorandum of Understanding and a joint Resource-Sharing Committee, and will meet at least every quarter to review the performance of the project.

Waroona shire will pay 40 per cent of Mr Unsworth’s salary, with Murray shire to pay 60 per cent.

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Waroona shire president Mike Walmsley said the two shires had developed a trusted relationship through previous resource-sharing arrangements and this decision took that relationship to the next level.

Similar arrangements have been made by councils around the country with varying success, but Cr Walmsley believes the arrangement for “smarter delivery” of services would work well.

“We’ve already got a great relationship with the Shire of Murray,” he said.

“This is new territory, but I feel that not only will there be significant salary savings through sharing a chief executive but it will also allow a more strategic and higher-level view of where we can jointly benefit with Murray.”

Under the arrangement, each council would maintain their own decision-making processes, but share procurement and administrative resources.

The two shires already share information technological support, environmental health functions and ranger services.

Cr Walmsley denied suggestions the decision signified a move towards amalgamating the two shires.

“I think this will actually protect us from amalgamation,” Cr Walmsley said.

“Admin sharing might be the ultimate way to do it.”

The idea was prompted by long-serving Waroona chief executive officer Ian Curley’s recent announcement he would retire.

“On behalf of the Waroona council and community, I would personally like to thank Ian for his dedicated service over the past 15 years,” Cr Walmsley said.

With more than 20 years of senior experience in local government, 12 of those as chief executive of Murray shire, Mr Unsworth is well placed for the new role.

“Dean has helped Murray achieve many positive outcomes in his 12 years as CEO,” Mr Walmsley said.

“Some of those changes have already benefited Waroona through the resource-sharing initiatives that are reaping joint benefits between the two shires.

“He would be able to hit the ground running due to his familiarity with Waroona shire procedures and staff members through previous resource-sharing programs.”

Future resource-sharing arrangements will be considered on their merits and deployed between the two shire administration buildings, which are located 20 minutes apart.

Under the new arrangement Mr Unsworth will split his time between the two offices.

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