Now hiring: Temporary CAO

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County council will seek a replacement CAO to replace their current replacement in order to lighten the workload on their main budget officer.

County councillors voted last week to terminate their contract with chief administrative officer Peter Tarnawsky effective Dec. 5. They also voted to make Rick Wojtkiw, the county’s general manager of corporate support and budget point-man, their interim CAO.

At a special council meeting Tuesday, council voted to authorize Mayor Alanna Hnatiw to start work on hiring an interim CAO to replace Wojtkiw.

“Mr. Wojtkiw, as the GM, has a very broad responsibility already with the job he currently does,” Hnatiw said in an interview, and it would be unfair to ask him to also take on the CAO job.

At the same time, hiring a permanent CAO would be a complex process that could take about six months.

“You don’t want to rush into this,” Hnatiw said, as CAOs often stay on for years at a time.

“I want to find the right person.”

Council hoped to hire an interim CAO as soon as possible, as the county was headed into budget talks later this month, Hnatiw said. She had received a shortlist of four candidates from Reynolds Mirth Richards & Farmer (the county’s law firm) and would contact them shortly for interviews with council. Interested parties could also apply for the job, which would likely last six months, by email.

As for the 2018 budget, Wojtkiw said council would be considering the same draft budget that was originally scheduled to be presented last week when it meets this Dec. 13. That budget features some $80.5 million in capital and operational spending and proposes a zero per cent tax hike.

If council chooses not to pass this budget before the end of the year, it would have to pass an interim “keep the lights on” budget that featured no new expenditures in order to meet provincial law, which requires all municipalities to have a budget in place by Jan. 1, Wojtkiw said. An interim budget would not affect county services.

Wojtkiw has previously told the Gazette that he was not interested in applying for a job as full-time CAO.

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Kevin Ma

Kevin Ma joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2006. He writes about Sturgeon County, education, the environment, agriculture, science and aboriginal affairs. He also contributes features, photographs and video.