Nanaimo Council forms shortlist from 37 applicants for interim CAO position

By Dominic Abassi
May 11, 2018 - 1:23pm

Council is expected to make more progress in their search for an interim CAO at an in-camera meeting on May 14.City of Nanaimo

Nanaimo Council is down to a shortlist of candidates to fill the role of interim chief administrative officer.

Mayor Bill McKay said the issue will be discussed further during an in-camera meeting on Monday, May 14 and expected the list would be whittled down even further. He said Council will also determine what the interview process will look like, potential compensation and how long the interim CAO will remain with the City.

He told NanaimoNewsNOW 37 people applied for the job before the April 23 deadline, including a number of unqualified candidates.

"All of the candidates on the shortlist appear to have previous experience, some of them with many years of previous experience. Some recently retired that may wish to just take a temporary assignment. Most believe, I would imagine, that they're going to be able to help us out bringing their skill sets to the City."

McKay said bringing in someone to serve as the go-between for Council and staff is critical to restore "orderly communication and interaction."

"As it stands right now, councillors are contacting members of the staff directly and it should really be an orchestrated and organized communication line between the CAO and staff and Council," he said.

On April 9, more than two months after current CAO Tracy Samra went on paid leave following her arrest, Council decided to begin the search for an interim replacement. The decision came days after a senior leadership committee comprised of City Hall staff informed Council they would be stepping back from handling the extra workload.

McKay was asked about taxpayers who may not like the idea of paying two CAOs at the same time.

"Well we do have to go through a process and what we're doing with this assignment is we're fulfilling our obligations under our own bylaw that we will have a CAO in place. While the Community Charter doesn't dictate it, we have to make sure we follow our bylaws and again we do find ourselves in a very unusual situation here."

McKay said there would likely be a negotiation process with the chosen candidate to determine their salary.

"Generally on short term assignments like this, candidates want to have a significant say in terms of compensation. They may elect to not come in as an employee but rather as a contractor on a short term basis."

Meanwhile, Samra has been paid more than $60,000 in wages since going on leave on Jan. 31. NanaimoNewsNOW learned earlier this week that the majority of Council, in a 5-4 vote, approved a request from Samra to delay a meeting scheduled for May 9.

It's unclear exactly when Council might make a decision on her future.

Samra herself served as the City's interim CAO from November 2015 to March 2016, before being hired into the role permanently.


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