Council retains final authority over selection and appointment of senior staff, if new bylaw is approved

UPDATED: Council delays final reading of administrative bylaw

Council Monday held off passing a bylaw that would give council ultimate authority in the hiring of staff.

The bylaw, along with two other related house-keeping bylaws, was sitting at third reading heading into Monday’s council meeting.

Coun. Judy Brownoff asked for the postponment because of concerns about the bylaw’s impact on staff hiring. Specifically, she wanted chief administrative officer Paul Thorkelsson to answer questions about how the bylaw might impact the hiring of operational staff. Council approved the postponment — which also impacted two related bylaws — unanimously.

Council’s decision marks a temporary delay in the expected passage of the Officers and Administrative Structure Bylaw, 2017. Its primary impact concerns the selection and appointment of senior staff.

While staff under the leadership of the chief administrative officer (CAO) will continue to handle the recruitment of senior staff, council will have the final say in the selection and appointment of staff.

“This is going to ultimately require council’s approval for either of these things to proceed, which would be selection and appointment,” said Mayor Richard Atwell last week. “For me, I want [contracts] to be captured as well. I do want to see all of the contracts.”

Atwell said he is especially interested in seeing provisions dealing with severance packages to avoid any future financial surprises.

“We don’t want to get involved in the recruitment, but I believe that we need to be involved in the contract and that we need to be involved in the appointment,” he said. Virtually most cases will not require much work from council, he said. “But I do believe council needs to have the control and not delegate this way. This is very important for council to retain and there is no harm to retain it.”

These points emerged as council considered the new bylaw during its last meeting on July 10 following a presentation by Ken Watson, director legislative services.

The bylaw as presented last week proposed that the CAO select and appoint senior staff categorized as officers of the district. These positions include among others the CAO, department heads, in some cases their deputies, the police and fire chief. ,

Under the current process, council does not hire senior staff that qualify as officers per se, the public heard from acting chief administrative officer Laura Ciarniello. It instead meets them informally following their selection. It also receives a recommendation from staff to appoint them as officers.

Several members of council including Coun. Leif Wergeland and Coun. Fred Haynes however raised questions about this approach.

Describing such an informal meeting, Haynes wondered what the point of it was. While nobody had ever questioned a hiring choice by a CAO during all of his years on council, it is important for council to retain the final say, added Wergeland.

These and other points eventually led council to amend the proposed bylaw, which also creates two new officer positions to the existing ones: director of building, bylaw, licensing and legal services, and municipal solicitor. Their creation flowed directly out of this budget’s process and requires Saanich to amend its administrative structure.

Ciarniello told the public that Saanich will communicate the organizational changes once the district has come closer to hiring the new positions.

Just Posted

Central Saanich, Tsawout taking part in reconciliation ceremony

Blanket event Monday to help foster mutual trust and respect

Retired Gordon Head teacher not ready to ride into the sunset

86-year-old keeping active with marathon paddling trek and week-long cycling tour

Parents grieving teen’s overdose death say it started with opioid prescription

Elliot Eurchuk, 16, died at his Oak Bay home Friday, after taking street drugs

‘On the Cusp’ debuts at Victoria store front

Camosun Visual Arts students present new exhibit

Songhees and Esquimalt First Nations open new RV Park

Both Nations excited about new economic venture

UVic’s Gustavson goes carbon neutral for air travel

As a way to offset the frequent airplane travel that comes with… Continue reading

Final week for ALR input

Public consultation process closes April 30

‘When everybody leaves: Counselling key to help Humboldt move on after bus crash

Dealing with life after a tragedy can be the worst part following a loss

Central Saanich, Tsawout taking part in reconciliation ceremony

Blanket event Monday to help foster mutual trust and respect

Ballet Victoria soirée fundraiser a prelude to final show of season

Company winds up its 15th season in the city with Peter Pan next month

Half-naked shooter guns down four, runs away in Nashville Waffle House shooting

Nashville police say they are looking for Travis Reinking in connection with the shooting

Child’s body found in river downstream from where boy went missing during flood

Three-year-old Kaden Young was swept out of his mother’s arms in February

B.C. VIEWS: Eliminating efficiency for farm workers

Don’t worry, NDP says, the B.C. economy’s booming

Most Read