Mike Rayner to retire in six months
AFTER nearly 30 years working for Tweed Shire Council, general manager Mike Rayner, aged 59, stunned fellow staff and outsiders by announcing his retirement from the council's top job.
In an exclusive interview with the Daily News Mr Rayner said he wanted to get out while he was still fit and enjoy life with his family.
Mr Rayner is one of the last general managers to have worked most of his career with the council he heads, working his way up through the ranks from water-supply manager in 1982.
Early Thursday morning he emailed staff announcing his decision to retire in six months on April 27 next year.
It is a timeframe he said would give the organisation time to find a new general manager and time for his replacement to "bed down" before the next council election in September 2012.
He quipped that the "biggest news story when I came here was the Clarrie Hall Dam and it still is," referring to the controversial decision by councillors last week to ditch proposals for a new dam at Byrrill Creek, which re-ignited concerns the wall of the Clarrie Hall Dam might be raised.
Councillors have put off any decision on that - probably until after next year's election.
Twelve years after Mr Rayner joined the council he was promoted to the role of district engineer, replacing long-serving predecessor Peter Border.
Mr Rayner said it was Mr Border who had given him the best advice - advice that is particularly relevant given the heated political wrangling over a decision on a new water supply.
He said Mr Border told him: "Mike, understand the politics but never get involved in it."
"That was the best advice anyone has ever given me and it's advice I reinforce with the organisation at every opportunity."
Mr Rayner joined the council as completion of the Clarrie Hall Dam was under way and major expansion of the Bray Park treatment plant and water lines to the Tweed Coast and Tweed Heads were being put in place.
He was later appointed manager of water and in 1994 district engineer.
In May 2006 the then council administrators appointed him general manager, replacing outgoing council chief Dr John Griffin.
Mr Rayner said his five-year contract had been given a two-year extension that was due to expire in 2013, meaning he would leave a year early.
He said his wife Vicki was delighted at the decision to retire, which he had been considering for 12 months.
"I think the time is right and I will get out while I'm fit enough to do what I want to do."
He said that included "as much physical activity" as possible and spending time with family.
"Grandkids are happening so it's a good opportunity to spend time with them," he said
"Life is short.
"Eventually someone is going to tap us on the shoulder and tell us it's our turn," he added.
Mr Rayner said he and his wife would not be leaving the Tweed or Murwillumbah where they live.
"I've got a lot to be thankful for in both terms of career opportunities and the opportunity to live in the valley.
"I love Murwillumbah," he said.
"We won't be going anywhere. We will be staying here."
"It's been a wonderful life."
Mayor Barry Longland said Mr Rayner had "been the interface between the elected body and the organisation" and had "performed in a very professional way".
He said the six months given for the council to make a new appointment was "very much appreciated".
"That's an indication of his commitment to the organisation," Cr Longland said.