The City of Melbourne chief executive Ben Rimmer has announced he will step down at the end of the year, citing the sexual harassment case against former lord mayor Robert Doyle as a factor in his decision.

Mr Rimmer said he had always seen late 2018/early 2019 as the “right time” to move on in order to leave enough time for the council to appoint a new chief executive before the 2020 election.

“This view has been strengthened because, since December last year, I have believed that a consequence of the investigation into inappropriate behaviour by Robert Doyle was that I would need to leave the organisation in order to assist councillors to move forward to normal relationships.”

He said he was, however, proud of how his team had handled the investigation.

“While there is much more still to be done, I am pleased that the Victorian Government has amended the Local Government Act to reduce the chance that any other CEO would find themselves in the same intolerable situation,” he said.

“A non-elected public servant should never be required to commission an investigation into an elected representative who is effectively their employer.” 

New lord mayor Sally Capp said the council appreciated the “leadership, values and focus” Mr Rimmer had brought to the role.

“Over the period since Ben started in February 2015, Council’s administration has become more forward looking, more delivery, cost and efficiency conscious, and significantly more diverse and flexible,” she said. 

“Council also acknowledges the extraordinary challenges navigated by the CEO during this period, both regarding the investigation over the past nine months, and also regarding his own personal health challenges during 2016 and 2017.”

Mr Rimmer said he was lucky to lead a council with “great culture, with incredible staff, and where we get to work every day to improve one of the world’s great cities”.

“While no organisation is perfect and there is much more to be done, we have driven important changes over the last few years to deliver even better outcomes for Council and for the Melbourne community.”