Third mayoral term beckons as councillors anoint Neoh

MICHAEL Neoh will be nominated for another term as Warrnambool City Council mayor on Monday night after more than a week of unofficial lobbying among councillors.

It will be Cr Neoh’s third time in the mayoral chair and the start of his third four-year term on council. 

The seven-member team, including three first-timers,  reached their unofficial verdict on Thursday night.

It is understood he was the only nomination for the position, although earlier in the lobbying process there were discussions about appointing a fresh face to the key leadership role.

He confirmed the unofficial nomination yesterday and said he wanted to bring more inclusion into council ranks.

“I want the group to feel confident of having their issues heard and addressed,” Cr Neoh said.

“There will be a meeting next week where all councillors will be asked to put forward their initial ideas and projects. We’ll look at how to agenda, discuss, debate and vote on them.

“It won’t always be unanimous, but issues will be voted on merit.” 

Several councillors told The Standard yesterday they were looking forward to a new era of unity and progress.

“I think everyone made the decision of wanting to work together for the good of the city,” Cr Kylie Gaston said.

Fellow first-time councillors Brian Kelson and Peter Sycopoulis said they initially preferred to have a fresh mayor, but after discussions opted for Cr Neoh’s experience.

“I look forward to working with him,” Cr Kelson said.

“He put on the table that he wanted to bring openness and frankness.”

Cr Sycopoulis said it was a collective decision to go with experience so the new council could hit the ground running.

“I’m hoping we can all move forward in a positive light,” he said.

Cr Rob Askew, entering his second term, said the experience of Cr Neoh would be valuable for the year ahead. 

The mayor and councillors will be inducted at a brief open meeting from 5.30pm Monday in the council chambers. 

It is expected allowances will remain unchanged, with the mayor receiving $73,720 and use of a car, while councillors will each receive $23,826 plus use of a laptop computer, printer and mobile phone,  with the option of  internet access or home phone link and facsimile machine.

Councillors will be advised by a team of senior officers, with the chief executive on a pay scale of $250,000-$259,000, one director on $170,000-$179,000 and three on $160,000-$169,000.

There will be two more open council meetings this year and 17 next year, as well as numerous closed-door meetings for briefings, confidential issues and pre-budget discussions.

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