Does CRB role take away from mayoral work?
St. Albert mayors past and present ponder if chair role detracts from mayor's work
Saturday, Aug 23, 2014 06:00 am
Can Mayor Nolan Crouse be both an effective full-time mayor for St. Albert and chair of the Capital Region Board?
Former mayor Richard Plain spoke at council on Monday night, speaking in part to the time Crouse spends on his CRB duties and consideration of St. Albert’s governance structure.
“The CRB indicated that about three or four days’ time would be taken to chair the CRB,” Plain said of when the role of board chair was initially developed.
A letter from Crouse to his council colleagues included as part of Monday’s agenda notes he’s spent between 65-75 hours a month since April on the CRB, according to his own tracking.
Plain said that’s time away from mayoral duties for St. Albert.
“This is a major challenge,” Plain said.
Plain called Crouse one of the hardest working mayors in the city’s history, but suggested that St. Albert city council give some thought to the city’s governance model.
The governance model is currently based around a full-time mayor and six part-time councillors.
Plain said if city council believes the city’s interests are best served by having their mayor serve as chair of the CRB, it should review its remuneration policy and governance structure to ensure council is providing leadership and direction to the city.
In a follow-up interview, Plain said he felt it’s “time for a conversation or a good think” on the topic.
“I think everyone was surprised,” he said of the hours Crouse puts into the CRB.
Council could consider how it handles the deputy mayor position or reorganize council around portfolios, he said of different approaches that could be taken.
In an interview Tuesday, Crouse said being both mayor and CRB board chair is “a dilemma that I face all the time.”
He said he thinks the time spent on CRB matters does take away from the hours he gives to St. Albert, and would be almost impossible to handle if he was only working 40 hours a week – but he works more than that.
“I’m also working at the rate of about 100, 110 hours a week,” he said, adding his last day off was in January.
As part of his CRB role he spends time with peers and provincial ministers and he can use that to move St. Albert’s agenda forward, he said.
“I think it’s a tough question to answer,” he said when asked if St. Albert’s mayor can handle being CRB board chair. One mayor might be able to take on both workloads, he said, but the next might not – and might not seek the CRB chair role.
Participating in other municipal organizations, like the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association or Federation of Canadian Municipalities can carry the same hazard, he said.
Crouse countered Plain’s concerns with a question of his own.
“Tell me what I’m not doing as a result of the CRB work,” he said.