New Shire of Serpentine Jarrahdale boss relishes task of restoring Shire’s reputation

Serpentine Jarrahdale chief executive Kenn Donohoe.
Serpentine Jarrahdale chief executive Kenn Donohoe.

THE new chief executive of Shire of Serpentine Jarrahdale faces big challenges this year to manage growth and repair the Shire’s reputation but Kenn Donohoe appears to have hit the ground running.

Mr Donnohoe has made moves to strengthen the Shire’s relationship with the community after its reputation took a hit in its recent community perceptions survey.

Residents in the southern ward were least trusting of the Shire.

Less than half (47 per cent) of people were satisfied with the Shire’s reputation overall, and a third were satisfied they got value for money.

Mr Donohoe told Comment News the introduction of SJ Choices – a participatory budget model – for its next 10-year plan was an example of the Shire’s moves to involve the community more by opening its books.

“I’ve got a really open approach,” he said.

The Shire hoped by opening its books the community could understand the pressures the Shire faced, along with its vision, and bringing the community into the planning process.

A panel of 30 community members have been randomly selected by market research company Thinkfield and will be given $250 each as an incentive.

Four public workshops – to which some members of reference groups from the community will be attending – will also be held this month and an online option will be opened.

Mr Donohoe planned to conduct a health check of the organisation in the next six months and said three weeks into his new role the biggest issue was the rate of growth in the Shire.

Serpentine Jarrahdale was the fastest growing Shire by percentage Mr Donohoe said, welcoming upwards of 2000 new people each year.

The West Mundijong Industrial Area is the next big project for the Shire, expected to have WAPC sign-off in May and become a source of local jobs.

Mr Donohoe said he encountered some of the biggest projects in the southern hemisphere when working in Broome, a Shire the size of Tasmania, which faced similar growth pressures to Serpentine Jarrahdale.

“I was born in Pinjarra, with parents in north Pinjarra and Mandurah and it’s like coming home to the Peel, with kids heading to uni and one at Byford Secondary College,” Mr Donohoe said.