Tamworth council has one of its biggest meetings of the year this week, but an important face won't be there to see it.
Senior staffer, Jacqueline O'Neill, was appointed as Director of Growth and Prosperity in 2021, but the Leader has learned she is no longer with the local government organisation.
Council has declined to comment on the reasons for Ms O'Neill's sudden departure, but the Leader has confirmed from multiple sources that "major discussions" were being held on Thursday, November 23.
"It is against Council policy to comment on staff matters," a TRC spokesperson said in a statement.
While it's not uncommon for senior council staff to depart at the end of their contract, it is unclear whether this was the case for Ms O'Neill, who was hired into the organisation in 2021.
As Director of Growth and Prosperity, she oversaw a range of multi-million dollar projects.
She also managed a number of council departments including Airport and Aviation, Economic Development, Community Services, and several others.
The sudden promotion means Mr Ross is now in charge of several council departments on top of his usual portfolio of managing the city's Capitol Theatre, Tamworth Town Hall, and TRECC.
TRC declined a request to interview Mr Ross.
Only six month ago Ms O'Neill told Tamworth's business leaders the council's plans for economic development were on track.
These plans included improving water security, developing a regional workforce strategy, and investing in tourism, among many other initiatives.
The Leader also understands TRC's planning department has been suffering from staffing shortages for the better part of a year.
Council would not confirm whether chronic staffing issues had a role to play in Ms O'Neill's departure.