With the clock ticking on current CAO Andy Goldie’s retirement at the end of 2021, the Township of Centre Wellington is getting set to start the search for his replacement.
At Monday’s meeting, council agreed to bring on a consultant to assist with hiring a new CAO at a maximum cost of $24,000.
While Coun. Bob Foster questioned why the work couldn’t be completed in-house by existing township staff, township human resources manager Rashid Hasan said the outside firm would help Centre Wellington find “the best of the best candidates” and ensure the process was unbiased.
“I’m going to be reporting to the CAO and I’m hiring that person myself,” Hasan said. “I have my own biases like every other human being.”
For that reason, Hasan said he “strongly recommended” council also take advice from an independent consultant as part of the process.
The CAO is the only township employee who is hired directly by council, and just how involved councillors should be in the selection process became the focal point of Monday’s discussion.
Hasan proposed initial interviews be conducted by the search firm. The next stage of interviews would involve the search firm, himself and the mayor. Finally, only the top two candidates would get final stage interviews with the entire council. Following that, councillors would vote for their preferred candidate.
“Quite frankly, that concerns me,” Foster said. “I think that number needs to be larger, I suggest that needs to be at least five of the top candidates rather than just two.”
“I think seeing the breadth of candidates is a really important way to ensure we’ve got the best person for the job,” Foster continued later in the meeting. “That to me is essential.”
Councillors Steven VanLeeuwen, Kirk McElwain and Stephen Kitras agreed they wanted to see the number of candidates who made it to the final round of interviews with council increased.
Meanwhile their three council colleagues preferred to hear from just the top two applicants.
“The more people we have, the longer it’s going to take us and the more arguments we’re going to have,” Coun. Neil Dunsmore said, noting the legwork of finding and screening applicants would have already been completed in by the search firm.
Mayor Kelly Linton said council needed to remember in the competitive market for CAOs, “these potential candidates will also be interviewing us.”
“When you go with a small number it demonstrates to the candidate that you trust the process and you trust your HR manager and you trust the staff," Linton said. "And that’s going to be important to incent some of the best candidates to actually want to be a CAO of Centre Wellington.”
Council ultimately agreed to up to the number of candidates who will make it to the last stage of interviews with council to three.
Input from councillors will also be used to create the CAO job description, along with selection criteria to be used by search firm.