As the inaugural meeting of the Dubbo Regional Council (DRC) gets underway on Thursday evening, it will also mark the end of Michael Kneipp’s time as administrator.
Tasked with uniting the Dubbo City and Wellington councils, Mr Kneipp became an administrator at an uncertain time for the region.
He has now left the DRC in the hands of 10 councillors elected from across Dubbo and Wellington.
“It’s been intense, but I have enjoyed it and I’m really thankful to the business community, former councillors and also Mark Riley and his directors and staff, they have just been fantastic,” Mr Kneipp said.
He said it was enormous challenge and a great privilege to help shape the future of a region he has called home for 35 years.
Funding from the state and federal governments helped a great deal, he said.
Now he will return to his corporate training business and looks forward to “working at a slightly reduced pace”. But he will continue to follow the progress of the DRC.
“I think that the council has a $214 million budget and of course through the DA (development application) process they have a huge impact on the development activity in the region,” Mr Kneipp said.
“I think there’s a good blend of new and experienced councillors and I think they will take on the responsibility with a view to doing the best for Dubbo Regional Council.
“While councillors were elected in wards, I think it’s really important for them to consider the totality of Dubbo Regional Council when they make their decisions. [Do] what is good for the whole region, not just for sectional interests.”
Other community leaders have thanked Mr Kneipp for his service, including Wiradjuri elder ‘Riverbank’ Frank Doolan and Dubbo MP Troy Grant.
“I want to commend Michael Kneipp, I think that under the circumstances he’s done a great job,” ‘Riverbank’ Frank said.
“On behalf of the Wiradjuri people, thank you for coming to our country and trying as you might to put things back on track.
“The merger, it is what it is and we’ve got to make it work now. I think it will, but I think that we should also not forget that interim person and that was the administrator, so thank you.”
Mr Grant said the legacy of what Mr Kneipp achieved would live on.
“On behalf of the community I thank Michael for the hard work and dedication working to reform Dubbo Regional Council,” Mr Grant said.
“He professionally delivered council through a period of massive reform and financial investment.”
Mr Kniepp working together with Mr Grant to secure more than $40 million in funding for the local government area, with much of this funding bringing forward projects that were years away from being realised.
“Without Michael’s safe hands on the wheel a lot of this funding would not have been possible,” Mr Grant said.
“Together we have secured funding for the Boundary Road project which will join Wheelers Lane to Sheraton Road, secured the $9 million emergency services training centre to be based at Dubbo Airport, locked in $5 million for the Wellington pool redevelopment not to mention many millions of dollars towards other vital community projects across the LGA [local government area].
“I wish Michael all the very in the future, his contribution to Dubbo, Wellington and all our smaller communities has been greatly appreciated and will not be forgotten.”