What?s up doc?
By PETER CATON
THE top ranks of the Tweed Shire Council face further upheaval with sometimes controversial general manager Dr John Griffin announcing yesterday he may step down from his $200,000-a-year job.
Dr Griffin's revelation coincided with the arrival at the council offices of a special government investigator looking into the use of credit cards.
But council officials yesterday were at pains to stress the two issues were not linked.
Dr Griffin, whose contract was due to run until 2009 after being extended just before the last council election in March 2004, said he was ''considering retirement'' but had yet to set a date. That is still to be negotiated.
And he claims all the turmoil surrounding the sacking of the Tweed Council earlier this year is not the reason behind his likely decision.
The 60-year-old public service veteran said he just wants to get out at the right time.
"I'm just thinking of the future. I've seen so many people not live long after retirement," he said yesterday.
Dr Griffin was brought in to save Tweed Shire Council from being sacked 14 years ago.
He succeeded and presided through the past four council elections until May this year when the NSW Government axed the most recently-elected councillors after a public inquiry.
During his watch, the Council underwent a series of investigations.
Yesterday even as he announced his pending retirement, a special investigator was looking into the council's financial systems.
The investigation followed a request four weeks ago from the man who signed Dr Griffin's first contract, then mayor Max Boyd, who is now one of the Council's administrators.
Chief administrator Garry Payne, who is also director-general of the NSW Department of Local Government, yesterday said he had contracted the Auditor General's department to look at issues including the use of credit cards in the council.
The investigator is expected to stay at the council head offices in Murwillumbah for a week.
"We decided there's a few issues and procedures we wanted checked," said Mr Payne, but added that and Dr Griffin's proposed retirement were "two separate issues".
Dr Griffin has been Tweed's highest-paid public servant and was given a controversial $8000 pay rise by since-sacked councillors in September last year. That came on on top of a $13,800 payrise in February last year which represented a 4.7 per cent increase on his salary and superannuation package then about $179,000.
His total package, which includes benefits such as a car, was then valued at more than $200,000.