New District Council of Mallala chief executive officer, Katrina Marton, has only been in the job for a few short months but she’s already looking ahead with confidence and believes the future looks bright for the district.
The Echo sat down with Ms Marton last month for an open and frank “meet and greet”, where Ms Marton was keen for a “team Mallala” approach to take the area forward.
Streamlining council’s administration, ensuring staff know and are doing their jobs, and working to improve community-council relationships, expectations and partnerships are all things Ms Marton is intent on.
She has supported a move to transfer council’s administration to Two Wells, as outlined in this financial year’s annual business plan (see separate story) and cites regional collaboration, further strengthening community spirit and improving council/community interaction as priorities.
Ms Marton considers our district a resilient one, a resilience which will stand the area in good stead for the years ahead, but only if council and its residents work together and the appropriate procedures, policies and development opportunities are put in place.
“I think I’m settling in well,” she enthused.
“I’m energized and there’s lots of challenges but that’s what I like.
“I’m loving it.
“I’m getting to know the council and people are getting to know me.
“I’m seeing how things are working and getting a sense of what’s the work that we need to do.
“I think I’ve got a pretty good sight on what we need to do in the organisation to improve it.”
Katrina has held senior roles at both the City of Sydney and City of Adelaide, and most recently held the role of general manager at the Town of Walkerville.
The move from city based councils to a regional one has been somewhat of a transition for Ms Marton, but she says that Walkerville operate on a similar budget and in reality the challenges in regional councils are “about resources and the tyranny of distance”.
“We know the districts come second at the end of the day, they do,” she said.
“We’ve got to be clever and more strategic in how we then get a good result.
“My immediate challenge is working out the picture of the organisation we’ve got.”
One of her priorities is strengthening the links between council and its community and improving how each interacts and responds to one another.
“There’s a real strength in community spirit here,” Ms Marton reflected.
“This is a resilient community because people have had to do things for themselves for a long time (but) there’s a better future for engagement between council and it’s community.
“How do we help build community capacity?
“How do we assist, how do we partner?
“Improving how we communicate with the community so that they understand us.
“We’re here to serve the community at the end of the day (and) a community and a council that’s aligned is a hell of a lot more powerful.
“It’s how we get Mallala (council) on the map.
“We’ve got to be ‘team Mallala’ and that’s where I’m coming from.”
Mallala council is an evolving organisation Ms Marton believes, stating it is modernising itself in many ways.
Her immediate priorities include finalising the 2015/16 business plan and budget, working through the Two Wells Town Centre DPA, furthering the town’s northern residential development, and broadening collaboration with neighbouring regions.
The next priority is developing a new Strategic Plan for council.
“It’s the most important piece of work because it is in a sense where the council and the administration meet and the direction is set for council’s term.
“That for me is absolutely critical.
“It’s the one piece for the community that defines the next four years.”
Regional collaboration, the economic development of horticultural industries and water projects in the district were also important, she said.
“I think there’s a lot of potential and lots of positive energy to tap into.”