New GM ready for challenge

THE first thing one notices about Liz Jeremy is her openness.

Bellingen Shire's new general manager clearly loves meeting and talking to people.

Mrs Jeremy comes to her new job with a hefty 27 years in local government, where she first started as a trainee.

She said she remains thankful to a general manager who inspired her and gave her direction.

Since then she has worked in a number of local councils in both NSW and South Australia, most recently at Blacktown City Council where, as the director of Sustainability, she oversaw a staff of 550.

“I am a people person, but working with so many people was a challenge,” Mrs Jeremy said.

This shire's much smaller workforce of 130 will be quite a change, however she has no doubts there will be new challenges.

Other challenges she anticipates are the big ticket items of council business such as budgets and integrated reporting, not to mention the Raleigh Depot and the Church Street project.

“Being new I am only starting to learn about things here, so I haven't yet got a picture of the intricacies and issues surrounding them. I am learning them... but I haven't actually lived any of them yet.”

As the mother of two, Caitlin, 15, and Josh, 12, together with her husband, David, she is under no illusions the biggest challenge will probably the relocation of her family.

“But we made the decision as a family and the kids are excited. “We lived in Adelaide for 13 years and were actually heading this way in 2001 when I got side tracked by work in Sydney. Now we are here and planning to try to live more sustainably.

“We had the chooks and vegies when we were in Adelaide, so we look forward to doing that again – we've just swapped those hills for these ones.”

And Mrs Jeremy knows the hills around here well.

“When I was growing up we spent every summer in Nambucca Heads and when we were in Adelaide we used to come here with the children. I love this area, which is one of the things that attracted me to the job.”

The other thing that attracted her was the Bellingen Shire community's growing commitment to sustainable living.

“Sustainability is my passion but I always look for balance because I believe that is how the best long-term outcomes are achieved.

“My vision will certainly evolve, but underpinning it is the desire to help create a strong creative sustainable community... reflecting the aspirations of both the council and the community.

“In local government there are often tensions between planning and the environment or the economy and planning... we have got much better at trying to find places for all these competing interests and to consider the social and environmental impacts along with the economic ones.

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