After 10 years at the helm, Moorabool council chief executive Rob Croxford has called it quits. Mr Croxford will resign in October to dedicate more time to his health … and guitar skills.
How long have you been Moorabool council chief executive?
I started in July 2010. My first local government job was way back in November 1997 … before coming to Moorabool, I was at Murrindindi shire, up in north-east Victoria.
What’s your favourite thing about being Moorabool’s chief executive?
The opportunity to make a difference. We’re trying to ensure the community has the services and facilities and, I guess, the lifestyle they need and expect in a peri-urban area. Our job is trying to balance all of this and get the best outcome for the community.
What’s your favourite thing about Moorabool?
The mix of the urban areas with the beautiful rural as well. There are state parks, but also the landscape in the west of the shire – it’s got that unique mix. Even the agricultural areas when you’re coming to Bacchus Marsh – it’s quite iconic.
What are some of the positive and negative changes you’ve seen over the years?
The positive changes are that local governments have become far more professional. Many of the people we work with have degrees and qualifications, and are specialists in engineering, town planning, social service, and the like. They’ve studied for years and done a decade of work to get to managerial positions. The negatives: constant battle of getting investment into the community we desperately need to improve recreational facilities, improving traffic outcomes, better community facilities. We haven’t seen investment in some of our towns for decades, until council has taken the bold step of spending their own money and in the process borrowing heavily. All councils need significant investment by governments. We need to have a fundamental rethink of what’s working. The system is quite broken and the only way to solve that is to have some deep thinking, rather than knee-jerk reactions.
What’s been the biggest challenge about managing a shire the size of Moorabool?
The challenge is we’ve got 60 smaller towns and hamlets across 2500 square kilometres. The ability to appear to be delivering for all of those communities is extremely difficult. Many communities just get on and do it themselves – the strength of community in some of our towns is admirable. Resourcing required to respond to the growth we have versus what local government can deliver is quite stark. We’re working to deliver to a town made up of a couple hundred people, to a precinct structure plan designed for 1500 people.
What have been some of council’s big wins?
The key things that we’ve done is really achieve a sound financial footing … improved all our financial indicators … and we have quite positive reports in our financial sustainability. But we have gone into debt. We’ve invested heavily in some very large projects – the Hallets Way extension, Racecourse Reserve at Bacchus Marsh. Roads and bridges investment in the west of the shire has been the largest it’s ever been – capital works programs that run in the $15 million to $18 million vicinity.
Where to from here?
Probably the key thing for me is to get a bit of balance in my life, getting fit and healthy. The hours you spend, not only as CEO but as senior local government members at meetings in the night and functions on the weekend, you don’t get a healthy work-life balance, so I want that. I’ve been learning the guitar since I got here – I got a guitar for my 50th birthday so I’ve been learning that and it’s time to put serious work into it. And a bit of volunteering as well. The volunteers in Moorabool have done some amazing work.