New CAO could come from within CBRM

Cape Breton Post - - Front Page - BY NANCY KING

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.


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