Central Coast Council interim administrator, Dick Persson, has confirmed Rik Hart as Acting Chief Executive Officer at an extraordinary Council meeting held at Wyong Chambers on November 3.
The temporary appointment is until the current CEO, Gary Murphy, returns to the role or 12 months from this date, whichever occurs first.
Murphy is on extended recreational leave.
“Mr Murphy has gone on leave because I asked him to take leave, having formed the view that it would be inappropriate in terms of governance,” Persson said.
“It does not reflect that he’s done anything wrong.”
Council is required under the Local Government Act to appoint a temporary general manager while Murphy is on leave.
“It is with great pleasure that I confirm the appointment of Rik Hart as Acting Chief Executive Officer of Central Coast Council,” Administrator Persson said.
“We intend to get to the bottom of what has happened here quickly, I will be focussing on Council’s financial situation while Rik will be guiding staff to continue to deliver our essential services,” Persson said.
“Rik has extensive experience in local government and has come out of retirement to help this organisation on the path to financial recovery.
“He was chosen by the head of the Local Government Department because he’s already unravelled a number of other difficult problems since he left Warringah Council upon the merger of Northern Beaches Council, of which I was the Administrator.
“I appointed Mr Hart as General Manager of Warringah in about 2005/6 through a very competitive selection process and we work well together.
“They went back to an elected body in 2008 and Mr Hart then took Council through the ensuing years with quite a bit of reform and change.
“That Council was probably the last of the Bluett Award winners, which is the recognition of the best Council in State, and he deserves acknowledgement and congratulations for that.
“Mr Hart had been able to engender staff support through hard decisions that had to be made, appropriate but tough decisions, and he’d done it in a way that people felt consulted, included and respected, so I am very pleased to have him to assist in this role,” Persson said.
He also thanked the Director, Jamie Loader, who stepped into the Acting CEO role when Murphy went on leave.