Bowden council’s top priority: hire a new CAO

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One of Bowden town council’s biggest priorities this year is to hire a new chief administrative officer (CAO) to replace Andy Weiss, who is retiring after a roughly 30-year career in municipal government – more than nine as Bowden’s chief of staff.

Yesterday (Monday, Jan. 25) was Weiss’s last day. Council plans to interview four applicants with a goal to have a new CAO in place by March 1. Meanwhile Jacqui Molyneux, the town’s financial officer, is now serving as interim CAO.

Mayor Robb Stuart says Weiss’s job is not an easy position to fill.

“The trouble is, with a chief administrative officer, there’s such a hodgepodge of duties that you have to (be able to do),” Stuart said during an interview with the Albertan.

“We’re not like a big community where you can sit in the office and kind of control things. You have to be out and about, and checking,” he added. “When people come in, they want to talk to the boss; they don’t want to talk to Joe that’s out sweeping the street.”

Weiss gave his notice to town council in late fall. Due to a tight budget, council considered hiring someone part-time, but Stuart pointed out there could be problems with that approach.

“The only thing is, that if you don’t have that full-time one – say he’s working Monday-Wednesday-Friday, if something comes up on Tuesday, are you going to hire somebody (who says) ‘oh yeah, I’ll come on Tuesday and take that time off on my day on Friday,’” he said.

There’s a concern that because of that, ironically, hiring someone part-time could even end up costing the town more than hiring someone full-time.

“A lot of the mentality now is ‘I’m off, don’t phone me at home.’ And if I do come in, it’s triple time or double time and a half or whatever,” Stuart said. “We’ve really got to be careful about that.”

In the end, council decided to keep the position a full-time one.

Meanwhile, Stuart says, other municipal governments – including Innisfail and Red Deer County — have indicated support for the town as it goes through this process.

“The Town of Olds has offered to help us out if we need it. They won’t say, have their CAO do work for us, but they’ll definitely give us some advice if Andy leaves and we need some professional advice, per se,” Stuart said.

“(Olds mayor) Judy Dahl’s been very good – just said ‘if you need help, let us know and we’ll work something out,’” he said.

He noted Coun. Wayne Milaney has “significant experience in construction and management for years” and has good contacts with Olds College and others, which could come in handy for the town.

During his career in municipal government, Weiss gained lots of experience in a variety of jobs. As a result, he could do things like drive the ice resurfacer when necessary.

Stuart said that’s experience and ability that may be hard to replace.

“Actually that’s part of the union thing. They don’t want management doing labourers’ work, because that could technically take away one of their jobs,” he said. “So we’re going to have to look at that too and see how that works.”

“It’s going to be different. We’ve really got to put everything under a microscope and try to figure out what’s in the best interest of the town.”

Weiss is philosophical as his time with the Town of Bowden winds down.

“I am flooded with mixed emotions,” he says. “On one hand, I am super excited to finally be retired and to begin the next chapter of my life. On the other hand, municipal life has been my career and a huge part of my life for many years. There is a bit of sadness in knowing that this part of me is nearing the end of an era.

“For Bowden specifically, I am going to miss a great many people, from staff and elected officials — both present and past — to so many wonderful residents, and finally to contractors and suppliers that I’ve worked alongside for several years.”

The town’s budget is still a work in progress, but Weiss is confident it will work out.

“Bowden is in very capable hands with the existing staff and council,” Weiss says. “I have absolute confidence in their abilities to work for the best interests of the citizens after I’m gone.”

dcollie@olds.greatwest.ca

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Doug Collie

Doug Collie joined the Olds Albertan in 2014 as editor. He covers municipal politics, news, community events, arts and entertainment and sports happening in and around Bowden and Olds.