In The Loop: Do We Need a CAO?

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By The Communications Group :

It was recently announced that Sault Ste. Marie’s Chief Administrative Officer will retire from the position on April 30th, 2015. The Association of Ratepayers commends the Mayor and those councilors who voted in favour of last Monday’s resolution to obtain a report on the viability of the CAO position and amending Policy #1-9, which outlines the hiring of senior staff, by increasing the size of the hiring committee from three to five. These are positive steps and we encourage council to go further.

In the years since the last hiring for this position there have been both political and economic changes that have made an impact on our city. Reality is that our environment today is vastly different. There was great controversy, which has carried forward to this day, over how the CAO position was last filled with a substantial sector of the public still expressing dissatisfaction with the process and procedures of nineteen years ago.

It is a common occurrence that organizational reviews are made in corporations in order to improve. Opportunity is knocking and now is the time to conduct a thorough review of Policy #1-9. It is vital for us as a community to explore our options and aggressively seek improvements.

As an example, Council is following 1-9 and continuing on with the policy to hire a consultant.

The common response from ratepayers asked was “Why?” “When taxpayers are available, viable and qualified as consultants and at no financial cost to the city”

Policy # 1-9 lays out the hiring process for senior staff, but unfortunately all but excludes public input. As currently written this procedure is fundamentally flawed and that needs to be addressed.

As it stands Policy# 1-9
1) Minimizes public input.
2) Encourages the use and expense of outside consultants.
3) Calls for a selection committee consisting of two Councilors and the Mayor (this has already been addressed by council resolution).
4) Seeks the establishment of criteria for the position as a task to be accomplished.
5) States the position will be finalized through “Appointment by By-law” rather than through offer of contract.

It is the position of SSMAR organizers that in order to ensure open, honest, accountable and transparent municipal governance we should be looking at every avenue and seeks every opportunity to make improvements. It is not inconceivable in this day and age that public input should be sought on filling any senior staff position, such as that of the CAO.

Open and accountable requires inclusion.

It is our request to Mayor Provenzano and council that Policy# 1-9 and current process be placed on hold until a full review and resolution to issues raised, have been addressed and amended.

Organizers of the Association of Ratepayers are currently making arrangements to host a general public gathering and conduct community survey to solicit community input in order to gather information for the consideration of council and invite all ratepayers to participate.