'Gympie CEO gets new five-year contract and denies 'purge'
GYMPIE council CEO Bernard Smith was this morning re-appointed for another five years, after denying a claimed purge of senior staff following his appointment.
Councillors showed strong support for Mr Smith at their general meeting, renewing his contract in a seven-to-one vote.
An international triathlon contender, Mr Smith showed political endurance as well, having now convincingly survived more than four years of controversy, firstly over his 2011 appointment and more recently over claims that up to 14 negotiated employment terminations have occurred since then.
Sometimes long serving staff were allegedly moved out under terms said to have included confidentiality provisions and ex gratia payments, allegedly amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars in total.
Mr Smith has always enjoyed strong support from Mayors Ron Dyne and Mick Curran and a recent staff survey also appeared to contradict claims linking him to an allegedly "toxic work culture" within the council.
This morning all councillors except Ian Petersen showed they support him too, voting to offer him a new five-year contract from the expiry of his current employment agreement in August next year.
In the meeting's general business session, Cr Petersen asked when the council would get an answer to a question on the number and cost of "a purge of senior staff", with details of confidentiality agreements and ex gratia payments.
Mr Smith said the council had asked the CEO to report on the number of terminations subject to confidentiality clauses and the number and total cost of ex gratia payments or benefits.
"There have been no terminations which fall in line with the elements within the resolution," Mr Smith reported.
Cr Petersen rejected the answer. "No terminations with confidentiality agreements? I don't believe it," he said.
Soon afterwards, Cr Wayne Sachs successfully moved and Cr Ray Currie seconded a motion that "Bernard James Smith be reappointed as Chief Executive Officer of Gympie Regional Council for a five year period from the date of completion of his current employment contract."
The motion also provided for a councillor committee to negotiate the terms of the employment renewal.
Speaking against the motion, Cr Petersen foreshadowed a motion that the council advertise the position and allow the incoming council to make the final decision after the March election.
"Ths does not preclude the CEO from applying, but (it) should be advertised to ensure the community has the opportunity to have the best possible person."
Cr Sachs said: "We have the bst person for the job already."
The committee to negotiate Mr Smith's contract terms will be chaired by Cr Curran and also include Deputy Mayor Larry Friske and Crs Gate and Mark McDonald.
is set to remain in the council's top job job for another five years, after formally denying a claimed purge of senior staff
And the international triathlete showed he has