City of Victor Harbor Chief Executive Officer Graeme Maxwell has announced he will not seek to renew his contract and will complete his employment with council in November.
The recent successful completion and opening of the Fleurieu Aquatic Centre capped an already impressive list of council achievements Mr Maxwell has proved critical in delivering over his 23 years with the City of Victor Harbor.
Mr Maxwell said the opening was an appropriate time to outline his intentions to end his employment with council after having worked with eight councils and 47 elected members, including five mayors.
“I am now approaching the end of my current contract and have advised the council that I will not be seeking a further renewal,’’ Mr Maxwell said.
“The time has come for me to explore other opportunities. It’s my intention to complete my employment with the City of Victor Harbor on Friday, November 3, 2017.’’
Since Mr Maxwell joined the City of Victor Harbor, the population has grown from 8000 to 15,800; the operating budget increased from $4.65m to $26.4m; Visitor Information Centre visitors have almost tripled; library membership and loans have doubled; and the number of registered dogs across the district has grown from 1700 to 3000.
Mayor Graham Philp said Mr Maxwell had shared his vast knowledge and experience in local government throughout the organisation and this had proven critical in the success of many initiatives and projects.
He added that Mr Maxwell could boast a long list of achievements, infrastructure delivery and partnerships benefitting council and its ratepayers.
“The most important project in my time has been the Fleurieu Aquatic Centre which was finalised and formerly opened this month,’’ Mr Philp said.
“This national award-winning project included a partnership between two councils, with support from the federal and state governments and the Wright family.
“Graeme was a critical member of the team applying his excellent knowledge, experience and leadership to assist key staff in delivery of the aquatic centre on time and under budget.
“Graeme oversaw the achievement of many large projects being delivered by staff and contractors, however he has always kept Council on track with the basics of roads, footpaths, parks and gardens.
“It is testament to Graeme’s ability as a CEO, that during my time as mayor of Victor Harbor, he has been performance assessed each year as having achieved very high standards by the elected members and his work colleagues.
“His experience and knowledge of local government and the Victor Harbor community will be missed and he will be hard to replace.’’
Mr Maxwell has much to reflect on in his career and he stresses that vision and achievement result from a collective contribution rather than the input of a single individual.
“When I started, the council and the community had a shopping list which expanded very quickly during the initial years,’’ Mr Maxwell said.
“Better footpaths, drainage, roads and recreational facilities always rated highly but Victor Harbor has experienced rapid growth pressures which has necessitated a broader strategic approach towards infrastructure and service provision.’’
Big ticket items chaperoned to reality under Mr Maxwell’s leadership include: the Ring Road; new civic centre and library; improved boat launching facilities; increased parking in the shopping precinct; new Victor Harbor tennis and netball courts and an expansion of the recreation centre.
“Of course there have been many other projects and initiatives. Some of the more noteworthy to me, given they are a little different, include the Kondoli Whale project at Kleinig’s Hill lookout, completed in 2001 as a reconciliation project and with the Ngarrindjeri and Pitjantjatjara people and the local community all contributing to the project,’’ Mr Maxwell said.
“In the 2008/2009 financial year council successfully conducted the Community Purchase of Renewable Energy Program, which resulted in a significant take-up by the community of solar panels. Victor Harbor had the highest penetration rate of solar panels anywhere in Australia and the success of our program was emulated elsewhere throughout South Australia.”
The records also show Mr Maxwell can say with confidence he is leaving council in a strong position.
Council now has its lowest outstanding borrowings in 16 years and has returned five consecutive years of operating surpluses. Independent auditors say they are highly satisfied with the council’s financial management, and council’s Long-Term Corporate, Financial and Asset Management Plans are established and well documented.
Mr Maxwell attributed the council’s progress and achievements to hardworking and committed staff and volunteers.
“The delivery of good structure, successful projects and adequate services cannot be achieved without courageous decision making by elected members and, more importantly, operational delivery by a dedicated, cooperative and capable staff,’’ Mr Maxwell said.
“I must also acknowledge the significant role played by volunteers in support of council.
“Further, I would not have achieved the longevity in my role, or been able to make the time commitment required to discharge my responsibilities, had it not been for the understanding and support of my wife and family.’’
Mr Maxwell commenced his career in local government in Port Lincoln in July 1984 where he worked for a decade.
He joined the then District Council of Victor Harbor on May 30, 1994, as director of finance and administration.
He was appointed acting district manager in March 1997, during a climate of amalgamation talks and following the termination of his predecessor in controversial circumstances and was rewarded with being contracted to the position of district manager/CEO on April 6, 1998. Three further term contracts followed.