In the story ‘Who’s running the village?’ published in the Lakes District News’ Aug. 30 issue, in the absence of Burns Lake’s chief administrative officer (CAO) council decided to appoint a different CAO every two weeks.
Burns Lake’s former mayor Bernice Magee said she was “very surprised” by council’s decision.
“To ask current employees to assume the role of CAO is very disturbing,” she said. “All of the inside employees are new to this place of employment and have no experience in CAO duties; they are still learning the responsibilities of their own designated area of employment.”
Rebecca Billard, the first village staff to be appointed as CAO, has been working for the village for approximately four months.
“It is unfair and unwise to ask these employees to assume these duties and responsibilities,” said Magee.
Magee pointed out that the Local Government Management Association of B.C. (LGMA) can often assist municipalities by connecting them with recently retired administrators, who may be available on an interim basis.
“The LGMA has a bank of qualified employees that can be hired to come into a community on a short-term basis to fill in for the absent employee,” explained Magee. “In the past, when an employee has been off work due to a lengthy illness or has left the Village of Burns Lake for another place of employment, the LGMA has been able to suggest to the municipality a number of potential short-term experienced employees to fill the gap.”
“It is my understanding of the current situation, that this opportunity has been overlooked,” she added.
Jerry Berry, president of JB Consultants, has specialized in local government for over 36 years. When asked for his opinion on Burns Lake council’s decision, he said that the constant change of CAOs could be “difficult” for village staff and council.
“Generally it’s best to have one person designated [as CAO],” he said. “That’s normal practice to have one person accountable.”
“It’s entirely up to council what they want to do and how they approach it, but they are accountable for the results,” added Berry.
Under the direction of mayor and council, the CAO is responsible for the overall management of all operations of the municipality and has direct responsibility for all staff.
The next employee to be appointed as CAO for two weeks is director of public works Dale Ross, who started working for the village exactly one year ago.