A POSSIBLE contender for the Moira Shire’s chief executive position, Paul Squires, has suddenly left the council.
The council yesterday said Mr Squires had quit his position as development and liveability director on Monday. He joined the shire in January.
Mr Squires had been touted as a replacement for chief executive Gary Arnold after the council recently elected to exercise the option of advertising the position.
Mr Arnold’s contract expires in February. He he has not publicly indicated whether he will re-apply.
But multiple council sources, who wanted to remain anonymous, said yesterday Mr Squires had recently told Mr Arnold he would be applying for his job.
Mr Squires’ sudden exit is the latest drama to unfold at Moira.
Former chief financial officer Adrian Pawar left in August and described the culture at Moira as “toxic”.
He butted heads with Mr Arnold and another director, Alison Coe, on recommendations to cut jobs and reduce spending. He also revealed on the day he quit that he had attempted suicide.
The council has disputed Mr Pawar’s criticisms of its operations.
Mr Squires previously was a director and acting chief executive of the Wangaratta Council, which is also in the market-place for a replacement for its chief Doug Sharp.
He also had been chief executive at Lake Mountain resort and, on returning to the area, took over as chairman of the Wangaratta Jazz Festival.
Mr Squires couldn’t be contacted yesterday and Mr Arnold wouldn’t reveal why Mr Squires had left the council.
The council next meets at Nathalia on Monday when councillors could make a move to re-instate Mr Squires.
Tourism executive officer Merran Socha is also about to leave the council, intensifying speculation the council will slash its $1.3 million funding for tourism promotion body, Sun Country on the Murray.
The council controversially took over the running of tourist information centres across the shire three years ago.
The biggest resistance to the move came at Yarrawonga. Local body Yarrawonga Mulwala Tourism could be forced to reclaim the running of the town’s centre if the tourist budget is cut.
Ms Socha will join nearby Berrigan Council in an economic development role.
A recent bid by newly elected councillors to suspend council’s audit committee failed.