INCOMING Moira Council chief executive Mark Henderson has admitted taking a $60,000 pay cut to accept the position.
The experienced local government leader’s exit from Mildura Council has sparked a debate about chief executive remuneration with revelations he was leaving a salary package of $310,000.
Mr Henderson said he accepted a pay cut given the smaller size of Moira compared to Mildura, which had an annual budget of $110 million and a population of 54,000 people.
“When you come back to a council with a $48 to $50 million budget you are being unrealistic if you think you are going to be paid a regional city salary,” Mr Henderson said.
“It is an executive salary package appropriate to the job.”
Mr Henderson has been the chief at other large councils, such as Albury and Hervey Bay, and smaller ones like Alpine and Murrindindi.
He had six months to run on his contract at Mildura, but elected to quit immediately when he secured the Moira position.
He starts at Moira on May 19.
The decision to return to the North East was helped by owning a cattle property between Myrtleford and Yackandandah.
“We always intended to come back,” Mr Henderson said.
“It was a case of grabbing this opportunity when it came up. We were entering the testy time of when you talk about the future.”
Mr Henderson said he wasn’t spooked about the well-publicised troubles at Moira, which resulted in a “please explain” from former local government minister Jeanette Powell.
He also admitted he had close ties with Local Government Victoria chief Nick Foa, who recently visited Moira to address its governance issues.
“It has obviously gone through some turbulent times, but the fundamentals are sound,” Mr Henderson said.
“I like to lead in conjunction with the mayor and they have accepted that is required to stabilise the ship.
“You’ve got four core towns, population growth and a strong tourism sector.
“We had some rough times at Albury over the freeway, but sometimes a new chief executive can break through that ground and getting people to work together as a team.
“They need experience and strong leadership.”
He said he had agreed to keep Mr Foa regularly briefed on Moira after he starts.