Role of Council and CAO

My first real involvement in municipal government came as a result of the CAO of the former RM of Shellmouth-Boulton asking my opinion on amalgamation. She drew my attention to an unsigned document regarding amalgamation that had been circulated in the Inglis area. I found out that the document had been created without the knowledge and consent of the Shellmouth-Boulton council. It seemed that this was an initiative of the CAO and this, to me, was not appropriate for several reasons. The function of the CAO should be, in my mind, to administer the affairs of the municipality. Determining public opinion should be the role of elected council members.

Being new to the world of municipal government I was unsure of whether my opinion was accurate. In an effort to determine more precisely what the role of the CAO was, I asked for a copy of her job description. What I received was a copy of her Employment Agreement; the contract between the CAO and the municipality. This document contains terms including “The Employee shall well and faithfully fulfil and perform any and all duties reasonably requested by the Municipality…” but nowhere does it describe what those duties will be. How in the world can an employee well and faithfully perform duties if they have no clear idea of what those duties will be? The municipality had no clearly defined description of the duties expected of the CAO and, to the best of my knowledge, still does not have a job description in place for that position.

Recent events in the municipal office indicate that there is considerable confusion over the role of the CAO and the role of council in relation to its interaction with their administrator. This confusion has contributed to acrimony and dysfunction that is threatening the relationship between council and their employees and is potentially injurious to the well being of the municipality.

The current council has now resolved to create a policy regarding the authorization of overtime. Such a policy is long overdue. But this is not going to solve all of the problems that they are facing. They need to get a clear understanding of their own roles and they need to define the role of the CAO. Once they establish that understanding there may be hope of seeing improvement in the governance of this municipality.
Published in Russell Banner and Roblin Review

One comment on “Role of Council and CAO

  1. Martin Smith says:

    It appears the Manitoba Ombudsman’s office is trendsetting here:

    Something needs to be done. The middle bureaucracy in this province still thinks they can get away with this nonsense.


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