Valemount Village Council
Valemount Village Council

By: Korie Marshall

The results are in, and the organizational review is good for Valemount’s administration, poor on the relationship between Council and the CAO.

The Village of Valemount recently hired a consultant, Nichols Applied Management based out of Edmonton, to review the organization, and the full report is on the June 9th meeting agenda.

The report makes nine recommendations to Valemount Council; six regarding clarifying expectations and a process for evaluation of the Chief Administrative Officer position, and three more to immediately make a decision on whether to continue with the current CAO or dismiss her.

The report was originally intended to assess the village’s organizational structure and service levels, qualifications and capacities of Village staff, do a performance review of the current CAO Anne Yanciw, and a review of the relationship that currently exists between Council and Administration.

However the budget, approved quickly in a series of regular and special meeting starting in mid February, was not big enough to do that. The consultant says he worked with members of Council and the CAO to redefine the scope of the project to fit within the Village’s $20,000 budget. The three key priorities identified for focus were the Village’s organizational structure, staffing levels, workloads and commitment to professional development; Council’s readiness to conduct a formal performance evaluation of the CAO; and the relationship which currently exists between Council and administration.

The report says the consultant found that organizational structure is not an issue in Valemount, nor is overstaffing an issue. It says staff workloads are not excessive, but current staff levels make it difficult to address important backlogs, and notes that some staff members are pursuing professional development, with or without support from Council.

It says Council is not in a good position to evaluate the performance of the current CAO because there are no clear expectations, and Council has yet to identify a new set of priorities. It also says the CAO and Mayor have not established a working relationship, which is significantly impacting the community.

“The crux of the issue facing Valemount today is the suboptimal relationship that currently exists between Council and the CAO.”

The report say this is already compromising Council’s ability to define its strategic agenda and priorities, Administrations’ ability to effectively deliver programs and services, and the public’s confidence in both Council and Administration.

The report makes nine recommendations around the position of CAO. The first six it says are “imperative” regardless of whether Council decides to work with the current CAO or dismiss her. The Village should adopt a CAO Bylaw; adopt a policy and procedures for hiring, evaluating and terminating a CAO; review and revise the current CAO job description; establish a formal employment agreement for the CAO; accept the assessment in this report as information; and accept the report as one input to any evaluation it does on the current CAO.

Three more recommendations are intended to assist Council to make a timely decision regarding its CAO. The report recommends Council seek independent legal and human resources advice to fully understand either option of working with or dismissing the current CAO; convene a closed meeting to reach consensus on their expectations of the CAO position, and their confidence in the current CAO and her work since they were elected; and based on the results of the closed meeting, Council should immediately make a decision on retaining or dismissing the current CAO.

Nichols Applied Management has been involved in the assessment of municipal government for over 40 years, and was scheduled to make a delegation to Council at the June 9th meeting. Check back next week for more on this story.