NEWCASTLE City Council’s new acting general manager says he has “no false expectations” about the challenges facing the city during a $190 million round of cost cutting.
Ken Gouldthorp, the former Toowoomba Regional Council chief executive, will begin his new job in Newcastle on Monday.
Mr Gouldthorp has accepted a six-month contract as the city’s interim chief, and said yesterday it was “too early to mention” whether he would be a candidate for the job on a permanent basis.
“I’d never rule anything out,” he said.
Mr Gouldthorp arrives in Newcastle with experience leading councils and other organisations through periods of significant change. At Mackay and Toowoomba he steered regional councils through mergers.
This has not always been without controversy. In Mackay he was dubbed “cashed-up Ken” by local media when he walked away from the newly amalgamated regional council with two years’ salary.
At Toowoomba, he managed about 1700 staff before resigning suddenly last year. Newcastle is a smaller organisation but the job comes with a higher profile and the responsibility of reversing dire budget projections.
Mr Gouldthorp is a qualified accountant and has degrees in economics and finance and a masters degree in commerce.
His financial qualifications are understood to have weighed heavily during the selection process.
The immediate challenge in Newcastle will be cost-cutting plans that are already well underway.
The council wants to cut 10 per cent from its annual budgets over two years and is working through proposals internally before releasing them for comment in the coming months.
Mr Gouldthorp said his first tasks would include going over council budgets and financial projections.
“I have no false expectations about the work and the changes that are required,” he said.
Lord mayor Jeff McCloy said he was pleased to get Mr Gouldthorp on board, although the Newcastle Herald understands the council decision to appoint Mr Gouldthorp was not unanimous.
“Mr Gouldthorp is very keen to get started and help council’s executive leadership team guide the city through its current financial challenges,” Cr McCloy said.
He will become the fifth occupant of the general manager’s office since 2008.
The revolving door has spat out Janet Dore, Lindy Hyam, acting boss Rob Noble and Phil Pearce.