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Sundre updates municipality’s chief administrative officer bylaw

Elected representative challenges perception among some Sundre residents that council acts as “puppets” that are “run by the CAO”
MVT stock sundre office
File photo/MVP Staff

SUNDRE – A town councillor sought to further amend the municipality’s updated chief administrative officer bylaw to include under a section about accountability a reference of reporting “all financial, legal, and any matter that may be of interest to council on a regular basis.”

The matter came up on March 25 during a regular meeting when council discussed the amended bylaw that was last revised about five years ago.

In a preamble to council, Linda Nelson, chief administrative officer, said the proposed bylaw had been drafted by the municipality’s legal counsel to ensure compliance with existing legislation and to reflect the requirements and responsibilities for a CAO as per the Municipal Government Act and other regulations.

Among the bylaw’s updates was the section pertaining to financial powers and functions, which for example include tax arrears agreements.

“Everything to do with a tax arrears agreement is legislated under the Municipal Government Act, including dates, timing, etcetera,” said Nelson.

“We do currently bring those before council,” she added.

“To preserve the reputation and the actual property that this is related to, it is done in other municipalities where a CAO actually does enter into those agreements,” she said, adding the process is heavily legislated and cannot be deviated from.

Coun. Jaime Marr, who after making a motion to rescind the dated bylaw moved first reading on the updated version, said regularly reviewing the living document is important.

“It is also important for our community to realize that we have a CAO bylaw and that we as council are mandated by the MGA with things that we can do and things that we can’t do,” said Marr.

“Our CAO is legislated to do things on the organization’s behalf,” she said.

The councillor went onto suggest including one more amendment.

“Just listening to our community, I feel like there’s a few people that worry that council is mere puppets – I think is the word I’ve heard – and we’re run by the CAO,” she said.

“I think it’s very important for the community to realize that we dictate and we direct our CAO through bylaw.”

That being said, Marr sought her council colleagues’ support in adding another bullet point under the section about accountability.

“I think it is a bit redundant myself,” she said. “But just so that everyone in the community can see and realize that the CAO shall report all financial, legal, and any matter that may be of interest to council on a regular basis.”

“How do we define what’s of interest to council?” asked Coun. Todd Dalke.

“Everything is of interest to council,” said Marr, adding that’s where it gets a redundant.

“Because what is of interest to council, we have laid out in bylaws and policies, and we get reports quarterly and monthly from the departments’ heads and our CAO. So, at no point in time would I argue that council is unaware of anything that’s happening in this organization,” she said.

Dalke also sought further clarification with respect to a section about legal matters in a hypothetical situation wherein the municipality received a court ordered settlement following, for example, a slip and fall.

“A slip and fall would typically be insured or a judgement,” said Chris Albert, director of corporate service, adding the sections referred specifically to uninsured claims that would be settled in court.

“Council would still be notified, as they need to be reflected on financial statements,” said Albert.

Mayor Richard Warnock wanted to note for the record that the first CAO bylaw had been drafted internally.

“And it was a decision to have this bylaw drafted by legal counsel so that we made sure we had the t’s crossed and the i’s dotted,” he said.

Simon Ducatel

About the Author: Simon Ducatel

Simon Ducatel joined Mountain View Publishing in 2015 after working for the Vulcan Advocate since 2007, and graduated among the top of his class from the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology's journalism program in 2006.
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