‘Hard decision’ slammed
North Stormont council officially announced that the township had parted ways with its director of finance during its regular council meeting on July 9, a move that at least one councillor strongly disapproved of.
“On Friday, July 5, council and township staff were notified via email by the township’s new CAO, Craig Calder, that the director of finance, Catherine Borelly, was no longer employed by the township,” Councillor Roxane Villeneuve stated. She then quoted an excerpt from the email. “‘This is a notification that Catherine is no longer employed at the Township of North Stormont. This decision was based on a new direction for the municipality and required a shift in senior leadership, and is no way a reflection on Catherine’s professionalism.’”
The contents of that internal email were somehow leaked to the members of the general community, leading to a larger-than-usual public gallery of about 50 local residents – including members of the Moose Creek Chamber of Commerce, whom Coun. Villeneuve thanked for being in attendance – although many were at the meeting to vent against the controversial Nation Rise Wind Farm, as well as other matters.
A Moose Creek resident herself, Coun. Villeneuve added that she wanted “to make it very clear that there was no prior consultation with council, or prior decisions by council, to terminate Miss Borelly’s employment here...”
Among those who spoke during the 15minute segment of the meeting devoted to questions from the public was Moose Creek Chamber of Commerce president Gerry Montcalm, who was upset with the handling of the director of finance’s dismissal, as well as how it may come back to bite the municipality.
“I’m worried this $548,000 (a provincial grant received by the township in March) is going to end up in a Catherine Borelly severance package,” said Mr. Montcalm.
“Not that she’s not due it, but somebody needs to start making decisions around here that make sense.” CAO Calder defended the move. “Perhaps...I could have been a little bit more detailed in the email. I’m not sure how everybody has a copy of that, but in any event, that was directed to staff and council,” he said.
“The intention of that email was to speak to the office environment and a new direction of trust and transparency, collaboration and an engaged workforce. That’s what the intention of that message was...not for the direction of the municipality as a whole, because that of course, lies as a responsibility of council.”
Mayor Jim Wert, apparently aware of the local sentiment regarding Ms. Borelly’s departure, weighed in on the matter at the onset of last week’s meeting.
“It’s no secret that last week, our township took a change in direction, as far as staffing goes,” said the mayor.
“It’s not up for debate....it’s done”
“It was a hard decision, and whenever organizations refocus, sometimes, hard decisions have to be made. But, it was done with the best of intentions towards the township, the staff involved, and the future.”
Mayor Wert added that the decision to let Ms. Borelly go was “done with the authority” of the chief administrative officer.
“I completely supported it. The bylaw is available for anybody who wishes to scrutinize it. It’s not up for debate...It’s done,” said the mayor.
Ms. Borelly had been in North Stormont’s employ since February 2016, having previously served as both deputy-treasurer and then treasurer for the Village of Casselman.
There has been no word on when a new director of finance will be chosen in North Stormont.