A search has begun for a new chief executive for Arun District Council.
A meeting next month will formally start the process to replace Ian Sumnall when he leaves next autumn.
The chief executive and recruitment panel, chaired by council leader Gillian Brown, will take advice from South East Employers’ director Jennifer McNeill on January 5 about the best way to proceed.
Previous meetings of the panel have dismissed the idea of sharing a chief executive with a neighbouring council or appointing a temporary senior officer to oversee a short period of change.
The procedure is taking place as Mr Sumnall marks his 25th anniversary at Arun. He was presented with some gifts at last Wednesday’s full council meeting in recognition of his loyalty.
Cllr Dudley Wensley, the council’s chairman, told councillors: “Ian is the longest-serving chief executive across all the local authorities in West Sussex.
“He uses his experience and expertise to help and support his peers and to further the council’s good reputation.”
Mr Sumnall joined Arun in 1985 as its chief planning and development officer.
He took on responsibility for economic development before housing was also added to his role in 1991.
He became the council’s chief executive the next year and spent six months in 1999-2000 helping the UN in then war-torn Kosovo in the Balkans.
Mr Sumnall said: “The 25 years have just flown by. Cllrs Dr James Walsh, Ricky Bower, Len Brown and Tony Squires, who is not here tonight, were at my first Arun meeting. So some things have stayed the same.”
Also receiving long-service awards at the meeting for 25 years with the council were Jaqui Ball, Liz Futcher and Steve Whitfield.
Former press officer Mrs Ball is now the council’s head of strategy, partnership, economic and cultural development.
Cllr Wensley said: “Her loyalty to the organisation has been an outstanding feature of her service.”