At yesterday’s meeting Richmond Valley Council’s General Manager was awarded a $10,400 increase in his salary package bringing the total to $240,000 per year.
Last year he was awarded $19,350 bringing his total salary package increase over two years to $29,750 (see last year’s story).
While the General Manager declared an interest in the item on the council’s business papers at the beginning of the council meeting, he did not leave the room when the matter was considered whereas he did so last year.
There was probably no need for him to leave as the matter had already been determined behind closed doors. The council meeting item was a rubber stamp so that the public was made aware of the increase.
According to division of local government guidelines how council arrived at its decision is not to be made public.
We aren’t even allowed to know what the Key Performance Indicators are which are used in making the determination. Why not? Why should the public be kept from knowing what the GM is expected to do?
Recently a former council employee establish a public program called poliVOTE. The tool is used by ratepayers to make an on-line assessment of each item of council business before the meeting. The information from ratepayers is collated and a summary report presented to councillors a number of hours before the council meeting.
Here’s what the poliVOTE website had to say about the General Manager’s pay increase:
VWD would be interested to know how well trained councillors are in Performance Management, a requirement of the Division of Local Government.
General Comments on Performance Management
Performance management is a complex issue involving many subtle psychological pressure on decision-making. It is hoped the councillors know about these pressures and are able to deal with them. The area of human decision-making is replete with examples of various forms of bias and distortion in decision-making which have led to poor outcomes.
One of the problems with Performance Management, particularly where Key Performance Indicators are not known to the public, is that a manager can shepherd a key or pet project of one or more councillors in order to garner their support during the appraisal process. Nothing has to be said by way of a wink or a nod.
Now VWD is NOT saying that this has happened here but to deal with this problem it is critical that Key Performance Indicators be made public to guard against this happening.
The consequences of not doing so can lead to uneconomic decisions including construction of ‘White Elephants’ and/or developments which ultimately cost ratepayers more than they bargained for.
Dr Richard Gates in a letter to the Northern Star published on Tuesday 20 May 2014 that in view of the ‘budget crisis’ the General Manager might like to consider declining the pay increase. Clearly the suggestion was not taken up.