In a vacuum it is often difficult to see the value of one city’s processes over another. There are always differences that outsiders do not understand. However, there are unique situations in which very similar cities perform the same task at the same time but one costs radically more. We found just such a circumstance and are comparing the search for a City Manager in Chestermere with that in Lacombe.
Let’s start by showing their similarities:
- Both are similar size cities in Alberta
- Both have very similar annual budgets
- Both are located just outside major cities (Calgary & Edmonton)
WHAT IS A CAO?
A Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) is the ONLY employee of your City Council. Under the Alberta Municipal Government Act (MGA) those elected to Council are explicitly forbidden from giving direction to staff; only the CAO can hire, fire and direct staff. The CAO is sometimes referred to as the City Manager and that is a good description. CAO’s must be intimately familiar with the Alberta MGA and generally well connected in the municipal political sphere.
Put simply the CAO prevents elected officials from breaking the law and translates the will of City Council into action with city staff, so it is an important position to be sure.
The real question should be “how much is that position worth” but that is a discussion for another day. Today, we are looking at what it costs to hire them and we think you will be startled by the numbers. Specifically, what are the costs incurred between the time the old CAO left and the new CAO started.