Dungog Shire Council's new general manager sees a "great future" for the shire and wants the organisation to be more efficient, more effective and get more value for money.
Gareth Curtis took up the role on July 1 last year after the council unanimously approved his appointment.
The former executive at Cessnock City Council, Mr Curtis said it was Dungog's potential that attracted him to the role.
While he is sympathetic and understanding that there is still some element of unease and stress for the community and staff following the drawn out council merger issue, he feels optimistic that it is now time to move on.
"Dungog has had its issues but the interesting thing is it has been the negative things that have been publicised and I knew there was a lot of good things," he said.
Mr Curtis lives in Branxton with his wife Melinda and their three children aged 15, 13 and 9 and finds the 50 minute commute an easy drive.
His first introduction to the shire was through his children's sport.
"When we first moved up here from Sydney one of the first soccer games was at Gresford and we all thought 'how great is this place'.
Having travelled on Bingleburra Road and Sugarloaf Road he also thought "what are these guys doing about their roads?'
But he said at the moment it's a case of "what aren't we doing about the roads".
"Council is well aware of the issues with the roads," he said.
"There's no hiding it.
"Because we have such a large road network and such a small population it takes time to get around with the amount of crews we can fund.
"The community knows we do it, because we do do it, the issue is what is the quality of work we are doing and what standards are we following when we do this maintenance which is something we are looking into."
He said the biggest challenge is funding - a small ratepayer base means a financial struggle to fund all the services council provides.
"It's a small council, with less than 80 people employed but we still have the same roles and compliance issues to follow as the large councils," he said.
"We spend so much time doing things that we are not taking a step back to plan on how to improve and be more efficient with things in future.
"We all manage to a budget, it's just more complicated.
"Why don't we use the systems and frameworks that we have to review those to see how we can be more efficient, more effective and get more value for money."
In the role for just nine months he is happy to have resolved the plan of management for the showground although the booking issue is not yet resolved and to have had the chance to sit down with all the managers to look at future planning.
"I am not coming up with some brand new system, what we are talking about is looking at our system and making it better within the framework that the government gives us so we can be more efficient."
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