Zaknich resigns, Council to seek new GM
Friday, 1st February, 2013
By Kurtis J Eichler
City Council's departing general manager, Frank Zaknich, says he's not trying to escape the organisation's future problems by resigning.
Mr Zaknich yesterday handed in his written resignation to Mayor Wincen Cuy after accepting the position of general manager at the much larger Albury City Council.
From this month Council will be busy trying to recruit a replacement for Mr Zaknich, who will vacate the role on March 1.
Mr Zaknich's resignation comes at a time when Council faces a potentially crippling debt crisis. The Land and Environment Court last year found the NSW Valuer-General over-valued Perilya's Broken Hill mines by $16 million.
Council could be forced to take out a loan of $7 million in order to repay the Chinese-owned mining company the overpaid rates.
Mr Zaknich emphasised he was not trying to escape the problems and would still assist Council in resolving the rates issue.
"I enjoy the challenge of trying to assist to sort things out," he told the BDT in his office yesterday.
"As I've said to the mayor already; when I finish up in a month's time I'm more than happy to continue to assist and support resolving particularly the rates
issue on a personal level because I've still got a connection with Council."
Councillors were told Mr Zaknich was bowing out yesterday, with some voicing disappointment after being informed via e-mail.
Councillor Darriea Turley said the 50-year-old's resignation was a "shock".
"He's been GM during the dismissal and worked through the rates and Valuer-General debacles and he's given a lot of leadership to the Council.
"I was shocked because I didn't have any idea that this was happening and, being Deputy Mayor, that's probably not a good position to be in.
But Mr Zaknich said it was a "very recent" job offer and insisted he would have been "happy" to remain in Broken Hill if the job had not come along.
"I've got to make a decision about my future prospects.
"I suppose the attractive thing to me with Albury is that it is a career progression for me. These major regional city jobs don't come up that often so it's really a career progression."
Mr Zaknich was appointed in July 2006, steering the Council through the infamous sacking of Mayor Ron Page and all city councillors a year later.
He also served with administrator Ken Boyle and has recently worked to resolve the Valuer-General land value blunder.
He was offered a further five-year contract in November but chose not to re-sign when offered the position.
Mayor Wincen Cuy was the first to offer praise for the outgoing GM, saying Mr Zaknich brought stability to the organisation.
"Frank has always been an approachable type of person and also leads from the front," Mayor Cuy said.
"His greatest asset is his untiring work and dedication to Broken Hill."
He credited Mr Zaknich with securing a number of key community facilities and services for the city, along with mining, retail, renewable energy, and infrastructure and film industry developments.
Mayor Cuy said there were always people looking for career changes, pointing to Broken Hill's "strong reputation as a breeding ground for general managers".
State MP John Williams yesterday said past experiences showed finding a suitable general manager "always proved difficult."
"Frank Zaknich grew up in Broken Hill and has been a part of Broken Hill which is obviously a huge advantage," Mr Williams said.
"No one really can predict the situation at the moment in regards to other people in the network who might be attracted to the job in Broken Hill.
"There's no doubt there's good general managers out there."
Mr Zaknich said the revamp of the Broken Hill Regional Aquatic Centre, his handling of administration and the ability to attract investment and infrastructure - particularly the Coles development - were achievements he could be proud of.
"I really walked into an organisation which had lots of issues to resolve.
"I think it is a better organisation in terms of wellbeing, in terms of confidence; notwithstanding these major issues that have come up in recent times."
Mr Zaknich said wife Terese Zaknich would remain in Broken Hill until their business, Thom, Dick and Harry's, was sold.
Albury Mayor Alice Glachan said they were pleased to offer Mr Zaknich the job, replacing the retiring Les Tomich, on March 11.