Long-serving Otago Regional Council (ORC) chief executive Graeme Martin is to retire on November 2, subject to the availability of his successor.
ORC chairman Stephen Woodhead said Mr Martin's current contract was due to expire in February next year.
However, the result of a series of discussion and planning over the past two years, initiated by Mr Martin, was that the last quarter of this year was seen as the optimal time for a new chief executive to start, thus ensuring a smooth transition, Cr Woodhead said.
"This will allow the new CEO to be involved with the development of our 2013-2014 Annual Plan, and be settled into the position before the 2013 local government election."
Mr Martin had indicated that he was flexible about his final departure date, and that he could finish earlier or later than November 2, depending on when his replacement was available to start
"It is a reflection of Graeme's professional and passion for both ORC and the region that he has announced his retirement and encouraged the council to make the change before his contract expires," Cr Woodhead said.
Mr Martin has been chief executive since 1993.
"This is a significant tenure. Graeme's knowledge of the Resource Management Act, the Local Government Act, and the Otago region will be sorely missed."
Cr Woodhead said any new chief executive would have their own distinct leadership style.
"However, thanks to Graeme's leadership, we have a very professional, experienced, and dedicated staff, who are a key part of the core values and principles that underpin what ORC is and how we operate, and these values will be carried forward."
"This will ensure that our work programmes will continue uninterrupted."
Cr Woodhead said the recruitment process for a new CEO would start immediately, with the intention of having the new appointee in place before the end of November.