Outgoing Eurobodalla general manager Paul Anderson has labelled the community “vitriolic” only days after announcing his resignation from the shire’s highest paying job.
Mr Anderson announced his resignation on Friday, after accepting a job as Gosford City Council’s CEO.
Speaking after the announcement, he said there was a particular nastiness and intolerance expressed by some in the community and that the Eurobodalla was more “vitriolic” than others he had experienced.
During his time, he said both he and council staff had received personal threats.
Mr Anderson acknowledged some of the tension existed due to the pressures of development, which he said were inevitable.
“The trick is to manage that growth and development in an effective manner,” he said.
“What you need is the right mix between preserving the Nature Coast and inevitable growth.”
Mr Anderson’s resignation comes just five months after he signed a contract to remain in his position for another five years.
In June the former council controversially voted to renew Mr Anderson’s contract - a decision the Eurobodalla Ratepayers Association lobby group slammed, saying it should have been a decision for September’s new council.
Former mayor Fergus Thomson was left to defend the move, claiming the council risked losing Mr Anderson if it didn’t offer the new contract.
This week he said there were no hard feelings that Mr Anderson had pulled the plug regardless.
He confirmed that Mr Anderson was able to break the contract if he decided to leave before the five-year term.
“If council wanted to break the contract, they too have clauses to break the contact,” he said.
“But, in this case, Paul has chosen to move on. To get to be general manager at Gosford is a big feather in his cap. He made a significant contribution in the time he was here. You can look at it two ways, you can make a substantial effort in five years or you can make no contribution in 20 years.
“We very much wanted Paul to stay.”
Mayor Lindsay Brown said the former CEO of Gosford finished in June and the council had been looking for the right general manager.
Gosford is one of four “highly sought after” councils in NSW that “don’t come up very often”, according to Cr Brown.
“There’s disappointment that he’s chosen, but we are mindful we are in a very competitive marketplace,” he said. “Good general managers don’t come along very often and when you do have them, you take them.”
Cr Brown stuck by the former council’s decision to renew Mr Anderson’s contract for another five years.
“We wish to send him the message and send the community the message that we had the best general manager in NSW that suited the Eurobodalla,” he said.
“Bearing in mind, when Paul signed the contract, it was with the intention of staying in the Eurobodalla.”
Cr Brown also said that decision was about trying to stop other councils coming to talk to Mr Anderson.
“We were trying to stop other councils coming and talking to Paul. If you give your general manager a 12-month contract, there’s a chance other councils will see and think, ‘this is a fellow that we can come and have a chat with’.”
Cr Brown confirmed there would not be a “golden handshake” as when Mr Anderson’s predecessor, Jim Levy, left.
“Council resolved for that not to happen again,” he said. “We’re not involved in any of the ways it’s been done in the past.”
Cr Brown said the council would decide who to employ as the next general manager.
Only two councillors have experience interviewing and employing a new general manager – Rob Pollock and Fergus Thomson.
Meanwhile, Mr Anderson said he couldn’t turn down the opportunity to work at a much larger organisation, going from a council with 400 positions to one with 1200.
To help counter the negativity surrounding council, he also urged people who were happy with council’s performance to be more forthcoming in publicly expressing their support.