CAO Bonus- Appropriate?

In March 2014 I received a letter from the former council of the RM of Shellmouth-Boulton barring me from attending the office and from communicating with the administrative staff. The justification for this action as stated in the letter was, in part, ‘you have made repeated and ongoing requests to the Municipality for copies of various information.’ They were correct in that regard but my question is ‘Where else would someone go for copies of municipal information if not to the municipal office?’ This information was not available anywhere else and is information that the public is entitled to have. The CAO is obligated, under the Municipal Act, to provide this information within a reasonable time. My requests were repeated and ongoing because the initial requests were either refused or delayed.
The letter went on to state ‘You…are making the administrative staff uncomfortable in the manner that you are dealing with them.’ No doubt I was. The CAO, and the council, were not accustomed to having someone asking questions about what was (and was not…) going on and they certainly did not like it when I pointed out that they were wrong. I am beginning to understand why they felt uncomfortable. It may be coincidental but the ‘barring letter’ arrived shortly after I asked for the CAO’s job description.
Consider this… In 2013 the CAO was being paid $75K. The ‘Employment Agreement’ between the CAO and the municipality states that this amount was in recognition of the fact that in addition to the regular hours, some overtime was expected. Despite the fact that in Manitoba any hours in excess of 8 in a day or 40 in a week are to be paid at time and a half she agreed to work the regular hours AND the expected overtime for the salary of $75K. It should be reasonable to expect that had the contract not included the anticipated overtime, the amount would have been less than $75K.
At the January 2014 meeting, the council of the RM of Shellmouth-Boulton agreed to pay the CAO a bonus of $15K. When I questioned this bonus at the financial plan meeting in May 2014 we were told that this bonus was for 512 hours of overtime that the CAO had worked in 2013. How is it right to take a salary of $75K that is set at that amount to cover overtime and then be paid $15K for overtime?
Admitted, 512 hours is a lot of overtime but for overtime hours to be legitimate, they have to be approved by the employer, in this case council. Were these hours of overtime approved? Did anyone check to see if they were legitimate? You would expect that council would attempt to verify this claim before approving it. But if they did, how much time was spent doing so? The topic of the CAO’s overtime was not mentioned on the agenda nor was it added to the agenda. It just appears as a topic of discussion and is approved.
Then I find out that the 2014 Employment Agreement (contract) had a new clause whereby the CAO is paid $125/day when attending training sessions. I was told that the idea of paying employees when they are taking training was put in place to compensate the hourly employees when they are away from their regular duties. I understand that for the hourly employees. But for a salaried employee??? I could understand this if the training took place on a weekend or in the evening. But these people are on a salary. They are already being paid to work that day. How are they entitled to another $125 on top of their salary? This clause appears in the CAO’s and other salaried employees’ 2015 contracts as well.
Both the former Shellmouth-Boulton council and the current Riding Mountain West council seem to be okay with these terms. Neither council seems to appreciate me asking questions and my banishment continues.


2 comments on “CAO Bonus- Appropriate?

  1. Menno Zacharias says:

    So did you at least get the information you requested?


  2. Rod Sudbury says:

    The requested information is provided… in some instances in a relatively short period of time but in many cases the delay in receiving information is unacceptable. For example, in the beginning I was denied a copy of an agenda for an upcoming meeting. The requested copy arrived 11 days after the meeting and was accompanied by an invoice. They are getting better but there is still a failure to embrace the concept that information is to be provided ‘within a reasonable amount of time (immediately whenever possible)’ as required under the Municipal Act and as supported by FIPPA. The comment ‘I will get to it when I have time’ seems to summarize the CAO’s attitude when it comes to releasing information.
    I will be covering ‘Access to Information’ in a future post.
    Thank you for your interest.


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