Shire of Serpentine Jarrahdale councillors have voted to appoint a new acting chief executive following months of secret talks and speculation about the future of current chief executive Richard Gorbunow.
In a confidential special council meeting on May 24 councillors voted unanimously to appoint Gary Clark to act in the position from May 30 until September 29.
Councillors also voted to authorise shire president John Erren to sign the deed of release, relating to an agreement between the shire and Mr Gorbunow.
On Monday Mr Gorbunow said he was not in a position to confirm whether or not he would continue his employment with the shire but said he had not been dismissed.
“I can assure you that whatever happens there is no sacking and I’m not bitter and if I’ll be leaving it will be on the best possible grounds and it will be beneficial to the shire and to myself,” he said.
On Wednesday Mr Erren said Mr Gorbunow was ‘retiring after 32 years service in local government’.
There was no announcement of Mr Gorbunow’s retirement prior to Mr Clark’s appointment.
It follows a number of special council meetings and confidential items, with most labelled ‘councillor requests for information’.
It is believed these meetings stem from a Rivers Regional Council request for compensation after confidential information, believed to relate to an RRC tender document, was inadvertently published on the shire’s website.
At the time Mr Gorbunow said the publishing of the document was a staff error.
The shire has also faced recent public questioning about its use of corporate credit cards after a Freedom of Information request showed a card issued to Mr Gorbunow had been used to purchase more than $8740 worth of alcohol.
It was more than twice the amount the shire had previously reported but at the time Mr Erren said staff had miscalculated the cost.
Mr Gorbunow is the second chief executive in four years to leave following a spate of secret meetings.
Former chief executive Joanne Abbiss resigned in August 2012, months after councillors held a special council meeting to discuss her position.
Mr Gorbunow was initially appointed acting chief executive to replace her, though his contract was later renewed and he was given the position permanently.
His latest contract was not due to expire until next year.
Local Government Minister Tony Simpson said the position could be a high pressure job and encouraged the council to move as quickly as possible to find a permanent chief executive.
“The CEO is the only person the council employs, it’s a decision for council to make,” he said.
“I would encourage councillors to move as quickly as they possibly can to resolve the issue and hopefully get a permanent CEO to steer a stable ship.”