Burns Lake Mayor Dolores Funk has resigned from her post to take up another role with the Village of Burns Lake (VBL) as the economic development officer.
Henry Wiebe will be the acting mayor until a new mayor and council are elected in the upcoming general election next month.
Funk’s departure, effective from Sept. 11, was announced in a statement issued by VBL last week with little over a month left of her term. In the statement, Funk, who served as Burns Lake’s mayor for the past four years thanked the council for its willingness to discuss difficult issues and still uphold the values of respect for each other and the staff, ensuring that decisions are made for the greater good of the community.
She also said she is looking forward to continuing to work on “the many great initiatives this council has started.”
Funk was hired for the position of economic development officer by the Village of Burns Lake’s chief administrative officer Sheryl Worthing.
The position which was advertised for a month, closing date Aug. 18, had four applicants for the role which pays between $58,000 to $68,000 per year depending upon the level of experience.
Worthing said that two people were interviewed by her, following which Funk was hired for the role. At the time, Funk who was still the mayor was also Worthing’s immediate superior. There were no other members on the hiring panel.
When asked about a conflict of interest in offering the job to a sitting mayor, Worthing said she did not see any in this case and added Funk was the best candidate for the job.
Funk’s letter of resignation was received on Sept. 6. She accepted the offer for employment after that and started the position of economic development officer on Sept. 12.
The former economic development manager Lorie Watson resigned in May 2021 to move to Alberta. In August 2021, Burns Lake hired Ken Guenter on a contractual basis. Around the same time, Funk was also contracted to assist with short-term tourism-related economic development deliverables.
Worthing told Lakes District News at the time that the village obtained a legal opinion to determine if they could contract Mayor Funk, who is a council member, and concluded they are in fact permitted to enter into an agreement as long as a conflict of interest is reported to the Corporate Officer (CO).
However, no legal advice was sought to hire Funk in her new role.
“No legal advice was needed. Anyone can apply for any job. As long as they resign, in writing, before they take the position there are no issues,” she said in an email statement. “As CAO, I decide who to hire. Elected officials can decide at any point if they wish to resign from council to take on other career opportunities. The village has hired elected officials before. Other local governments have as well.”