CAO to remain director
of public works for now

By Liz Dadson


Kincardine council

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Kincardine's chief administrative officer (CAO) will continue as director of public works for now.

In committee of the whole last night (Sept. 3), CAO Murray Clarke put forward that recommendation, noting that he has been acting public works director since November, 2013, and council was to review that position within the year.

Six months ago, Don Huston took on the new role of manager of operations and that has been a great success, said Clarke. 
In addition, council approved  the transfer of responsibility of the public works building portfolio to the building department.

Clarke said there has been no measurable loss of capacity in the CAO function or department, during a period of intense activity and high-profile and time-consuming files.

"All areas of public works are being capably dealt with, including fiscal, operational, staffing and project management," he said. "There is excellent rapport in the reporting relationships among the incumbent staff. Issues, concerns and problems raised by the public and stakeholders are being effectively managed.

"The resultant payroll burden saving is also a consideration. In short, it seems to be a valid management model."

He noted that the payroll savings, an estimated $30,000 per year, should be considered as council heads into an extremely challenging budget year.

Clarke's recommendation was to continue his role as CAO and public works director and to review it again in a year.

A public works organizational report by B.M. Ross and Associates, also presented last night, recommended Kincardine create a new position, fleet and stores co-ordinator.

Clarke suggested the recruitment of that position be approved immediately. His payroll savings calculation includes the hiring of a fleet co-ordinator.

"That person would ensure that the right equipment is in the right place at the right time," said Clarke. "A fleet manager would also take care of inventory and stores control, and better co-ordinate the four public works sites."

Deputy mayor Anne Eadie said that while she appreciates the dual role that Clarke is able to undertake, when he decides to retire, a new CAO may not be comfortable with the public works portfolio.

Councillor Randy Roppel said council should keep Clarke as the CAO and hire a new public works director.

Councillor Candy Hewitt agreed, saying the new model is not the best long-term solution.

"It's not inappropriate to double-up any of these functions," said councillor Kenneth Craig. "If you can do that for some time, that's good and you save money. In the long-term, you may not have that skill-set but ride out this program as long as you can."

Councillor Maureen Couture said the public works department needs technical staff. "I would like to see us pursue getting a new director of public works back in place, before Murray (Clarke) retires."

She recommended a review of the CAO and public works position in six months' time.


"We hire a CAO to run a team," said mayor Larry Kraemer. "Murray (Clarke) has done a great job of deciding how that team should work. I suggest we support this model as long as we can."

However, he also recommended deferring the hiring of a fleet co-ordinator until the 2015 budget deliberations.

Clarke said that having a CAO work as the public works director is not uncommon.

"A CAO has to know a little about a whole lot of things," he said. "It's not about roads and bridges, and water and sewers. It's about managing people. Here, we are blessed with exceptional talent which we need to manage and develop for the Municipality of Kincardine to be sustainable."

Committee-of-the-whole agreed to continue with Clarke as CAO and public works director, and review it again in a year. Also, it was agreed to defer hiring a fleet co-ordinator until budget discussions.

That decision was endorsed by council later in the meeting.

Liz Dadson

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Wednesday, September 03, 2014