The Shire of Augusta-Margaret River could be without a permanent chief executive for more than half a year as councillors prepare to start the recruitment process to replace Stephanie Addison-Brown. The council plan involved recruiting a professional interim chief executive for up to six months while a cohort of three elected members lead the chase for a permanent chief to replace Ms Addison-Brown who resigned last month to take up a new job as stakeholder relations manager with the City of Busselton. Councillors discussed the way forward at last week’s council meeting, putting forward Shire president Julia Meldrum and councillors Ian Earl and deputy Shire president Paula Cristoffanini to the headhunting panel. Councillors David Binks and Kylie Kennaugh were delegated proxies for the process. Ms Addison-Brown finishes up at the Shire on February 9, by which time councillors hoped to retain an interim chief. “This CEO will be in place while council undertakes a recruitment process for a substantive CEO to replace Steph longer term,” Cr Meldrum told the Times. The undertaking which received unanimous support from attending members would involve councillors contacting the WA Local Government Association “in relation to available and suitable candidates”. WALGA could be engaged to run the recruitment process, should councillors choose. The council motion identified the candidate would need to demonstrate “extensive” experience at a local government of similar size, align with the existing chief executive role description, and have no existing relationship with the Shire hierarchy to avoid perceived conflicts of interest. Ms Addison-Brown resigned just a fortnight after hiring two new directors for the Shire after earlier this year restructuring the organisation and adding a director position. That change forced the departure of corporate and community services director James Shepherd, with existing finance manager Mel Stevens elevated to the corporate and customer services role and new director Nick Byrne taking the sustainable economy and communities mantle. Council watchers were taken off guard by Ms Addison-Brown’s departure after she was awarded a five-year contract extension before the completion of the contract signed when she started with the Shire in 2018. During her time at the local government, Ms Addison-Brown married the City of Busselton’s legal services co-ordinator Cobus Botha and was already living in Busselton. As a Band 2 local government, the latest remuneration package for chief executives set by WA’s independent Salaries and Allowances Tribunal was for total benefits of between $219,000 and $340,000. The Times understands the Augusta-Margaret River Shire package was last set at about $300,000.