ARICHAT: Richmond County is no closer to finding a new permanent Chief Administrative Officer (CAO), with less than a month remaining on the contract for the person holding the post on an interim basis.
Richmond Warden Brian Marchand confirmed Friday afternoon that the municipality has “not yet” agreed to advertise for a new CAO and did not offer any indication as to when formal discussions in this regard would get underway. The warden’s comments came three days after Isle Madame councillor James Goyetche attempted to launch a council motion to advertise for a replacement for Maris Freimanis, whose term as interim CAO is slated to expire next month.
“I think we have a legal obligation, as a council, [to hire a full-time CAO] – as a matter of fact, I think we should start advertising the position of CAO immediately, because I don’t think we can keep on hiring [temporary CAOs] for a term position,” Goyetche told the May 23 council meeting in Arichat.
“… There’s no continuity just by going from term to term to term… What this does is provide more stability for staff and a better relationship with council if we have a permanent CAO.”
Goyetche agreed to withdraw his public motion at the request of Marchand, who suggested that “we shouldn’t be making that motion here” and requested that such discussion be referred to the closed in-camera session scheduled for the end of the council meeting. However, the former warden warned that the municipality cannot proceed with a series of interim CAOs for much longer.
“According to the legality of the municipality, as far as hiring practices, I think we have no choice but to tender out for a CAO,” Goyetche insisted.
“I don’t think we have the right or that we can continue, or that would it would make for good government, to keep hiring a CAO on a term position. It doesn’t make for a sound relationship with staff, and it doesn’t do justice to council.”
Freimanis, who had previously served for six years as the CAO for the Town of Port Hawkesbury, took on the position shortly after a previous interim CAO, Jason Martell, stepped away from these duties to concentrate on his full-time position as the county’s Director of Finance. Martell had assumed most of the CAO’s duties following the October medical leave and subsequent resignation of the county’s last full-time CAO, Warren Olsen.
Addressing the issue at the time of Freimanis’ hiring in December, Marchand said council was aiming to install a full-time CAO early in the summer, following a formal solicitation of candidates that would take place over a three-month period.