McGrath to lead embattled council

WANGARATTA Council has found a new chief executive in Brendan McGrath — leaving Indigo Council with a big vacancy to fill.

The Indigo chief executive will start his new role with Wangaratta early next year, according to a joint press statement released late yesterday by both councils.

Mr McGrath said he was “very much looking forward” to the challenge ahead.

“Wangaratta is a fantastic city with huge potential,” he said.

“I recognise the value of the agricultural sector, of economic development, tourism, the recreation sector, the arts and culture sector and especially the need to work with the community.”

Mr McGrath has been the Indigo chief executive for the past six years, replacing former chief John Costello after working as a general manager at Mitchell Shire Council.

His tenure has seen the ongoing debate over relocating the council’s offices, mining of Skeleton Hill in Chiltern and a dramatic pay dispute last year with council workers.

Rural City Wangaratta administrator Ailsa Fox said Mr McGrath was successful in an extremely competitive field.

“Brendan comes with a great deal of experience and a strong focus on community,” Mrs Fox said.

“He impressed all the administrators through the recruitment process and we are eager to move forward with the rebuilding of the corporate management team under his leadership.”

Mr McGrath said he was looking forward to working with the administrators, the staff and the community, and “ultimately the return of an elected council”.

He said he would miss Indigo and praised the staff, as well as past and current councillors for their commitment.

Indigo mayor Bernard Gaffney praised the outgoing chief for his efforts.

“Brendan has built a sound management team around him and focused on ensuring council remains a viable, relevant and responsive organisation well into the future,” Cr Gaffney said.

Cr Gaffney said the council would now discuss a recruitment process.

Mr McGrath is a board member of LGPro, the peak body for local government professionals in Victoria, and for Tourism North East.

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