By ALEXANDER LEWIS
City of Sydney’s chief executive Monica Barone could remain in her role for years after a new council is elected in 2016.
Lord Mayor Clover Moore urged councillors to endorse the renewal of Ms Barone’s contract for a further five years in a mayoral minute distributed just moments before tonight’s council meeting.
Liberal Councillor Edward Mandla sought to amend the proposed resolution so Ms Barone’s contract was only extended to six months after the council election next September.
But his amendment was voted down and the extension endorsed in a confidential debate at the end of the meeting, meaning ratepayers could be forced to cough up a hefty severance bill should the new council want a different CEO.
“Shortly we face a new voting franchise; things may well look very different in this Chamber,” Clr Mandla said.
“There is no reason to burden taxpayers with severance costs should the next chamber have other views in respect of who holds this important position. We would not like having it done to us if the previous council was vastly different to this one.
“And if it’s good enough for more junior staff, such as every Councillor Support Officer having a contract that expires one month after the election, then its good enough for the CEO I am sure.”
He said Clr Moore’s use of her mayoral minute to extend the contract was scandalous.
“The delegation requires the CEO to be appointed in consultation with councillors. I would not consider verbal notice fifteen minutes before a council meeting on a Lord Mayoral Minute as meeting that requirement,” he said.
“Regrettably, the CEO and Lord Mayor are viewed as birds of feather. [They] are both joined at the hip. It’s a bad look and seems opportunistic. It’s certainly not a model of good governance.”
In guidelines published by the Office of Local Government in 2009, it is stated that “mayoral minutes should not be used to introduce, without notice, matters that are routine, not urgent, or need research or a lot of consideration by the councillors before coming to a decision.”
“These types of matters would be better placed on the agenda, with the usual period of notice being given to the councillors,” the document read.
Ms Barone was appointed as the City’s CEO more than nine years ago. Her contract, which was extended for five years in 2011, was due to run out in April 2016.
Clr Moore said as per the contract, Ms Barone had advised nine months prior to its termination that she wished to remain in the role and that the council was required to advise the CEO at least 6 months before the termination date if it intended to renew it.
“In April 2011, the council considered my Lord Mayoral Minute on appointment of the CEO and unanimously resolved to proceed with a contract renewal for a further five years,” Clr Moore said.
“Each year, in accordance with the Local Government Guidelines, the CEO has submitted a performance report that I have reviewed. As part of this, I ask all councillors if they have any matters that they wish to be considered.”
“Each year it was agreed that the CEO’s performance was outstanding.”
Ms Barone is paid approximately $400,000 a year by the City of Sydney.