A NEW era in local government begins this week as Conn Murray starts his job as county/city manager.
His appointment comes ahead of the merger of Limerick City Council with Limerick County Council in 2014.
The former Louth County Council boss arrived at City Hall this Wednesday where he briefed staff on his plans. He was expected to travel to County Hall later.
LIT president Dr Maria Hinfelaar said the start of Mr Murray’s contract marks a “line in the sand” for both Limerick and the Mid-West.
“The amalgamation of the local authorities needs creative thinking and dynamism for what will be a challenging but nonetheless exciting role in re-shaping Limerick and transforming it into a true economic engine room for the entire region,” Dr Hinfelaar said.
The fact Mr Murray - who enjoyed a previous spell in Limerick City Council - created an economic forum in Louth provides Dr Hinfelaar with evidence of the benefit he will be to both the city and county.
She said: “Conn has already in his career shown the type of leadership that will be essential for Limerick at this critical time in the city’s history. In particular, the establishment by him of the Louth Economic Forum in 2009 to bring key public and private stakeholders together to champion the county’s economy at such a difficult time was evidence of the type of innovation Limerick City will benefit from under his management.”
Cathaoirleach Jerome Scanlan also welcomed Mr Murray to Limerick.
He says while the major challenge is to balance the books in both Limerick City Council and Limerick County Council, another key job Mr Murray has is to engage with communities.
“There is a need to actively encourage communities throughout Limerick to work for the betterment of the county. They are doing this very well, but we need to acknowledge this and ensure the new manager gets involved. It is the one area where a lot more can be achieved by working in harmony with communities,” he told the Limerick Leader.
Leas-Cathaoirleach Cllr Leo Walsh added: “We all want to see investment brought back into the city centre. His biggest challenge will be to get people to invest in the inner city. But that cannot take away from the needs of rural County Limerick. I wish him well, I look forward to meeting him and working alongside him.”
Mr Murray was appointed as Limerick’s new ‘supermanager’ following the retirement of former city manager Tom Mackey and former county manager Ned Gleeson.
His role will be to merge the functions of City Council and County Council ahead of the merger which will begin at the 2014 local elections. He will earn over €150,000 each year.