New CAO could come from within CBRM
When it comes to searching for a new chief administrative officer, the Cape Breton Regional Municipality is going to look in-house first.
Council agreed unanimously at its regular monthly meeting Tuesday to authorize an internal selection process and to begin the next steps of the process, involving the director of human resources and eventually council.
“That will mean there will be a competition within the CBRM that will be posted and to initiate the process now with the director of human resources,” Mayor Cecil Clarke said.
There are other issues that will have to be considered, including the interview process and selection criteria, he added.
“One of the things I needed was to get direction from council so that we could formalize what we would do,” Clarke said.
The CAO is the only CBRM employee directly employed by council.
“It’s the one decision that’s outside of all the other hiring processes, both for unionized and non-unionized and confidential staff,” Clarke said.
Prior to hiring former CAO Michael Merritt in July 2014, council opted for an external process. Recently, several members of council have expressed a desire to promote from within.
If no suitable candidate emerged from the internal process then council could look at launching an external search.
Chief financial officer Marie Walsh is currently the acting CAO.
While he said there’s no rush, Clarke said he suspects the hiring could be completed by the end of June.
As the CBRM looks to do long-term planning, and seeks to fulfill Walsh’s desire to put a five-year corporate plan in place, the CAO will have an important role to play, Clarke said.
“I don’t want to go into the summer and start a planning process that there isn’t a CAO selected because that is going to be the leadership necessary,” he said.
Clarke said his recommendation will be that full council is involved in the interview process although council could opt for a smaller committee of councilors.
In announcing the resignation of Merritt, the CBRM indicated he would remain CAO until June 30. However, a news release announcing his new position as CAO of the Town of Olds, Alberta, indicated Merritt’s first day on the job there was May 8.
Under the terms of his contract with the CBRM, Merritt was required to provide three months notice of his intention to leave. He told The Post he would take his accumulated vacation time in the weeks leading up to the official departure date.
When Merritt was hired, his salary was set at $180,000 a year. When Jerry Ryan left the post in December 2012, the CAO salary was $138,000. It was bumped to $148,000 when current chief financial officer Marie Walsh took over as interim CAO, while maintaining her duties as finance director. Council budgeted $40,000 for the CAO search that resulted in Merritt’s hiring, and the Cape Breton Post reported that with the hiring of Toronto firm Organization Consulting Ltd., the total cost including tax came to $38,903.26.