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Leadership change required: Council

Masha Scheele

Chief Administrative Officer (CAO), Martin Taylor, was put on immediate leave of absence with pay following a special meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 4. 

The topic of the meeting was the future of the town’s leadership and five motions were made regarding the beginning of a process to terminate Taylor’s appointment of CAO.

More than two thirds of council agreed to the meeting in writing, which according to the municipal government act (MGA) allows them to hold a special meeting of Council with less than 24 hours notice and without public notice.

Following the meeting, a notice of intent to terminate appointment and employment without cause was given to Taylor in writing.

“We want to share that we have a strong administrative team here in Hinton and we look forward to this new leadership that we’re setting up,” stated Mayor Marcel Michaels in a Facebook video posted on Dec. 5.

Motion one states that notice in writing must be given immediately to CAO Taylor, of Council’s intention to terminate his appointment and employment with the Town of Hinton, without cause, due to a change in leadership being required.

The town did not comment about what next steps will be made.

According to the town’s Town Manager Recruitment Policy, a Personnel Committee made up of councillors and the mayor can begin the process of replacing the vacant position.

This process can be done internally using Town of Hinton staff or by retaining the services of an outside consulting firm, states the policy.

In the meantime, strategic services manager, Emily Olsen has been appointed as the acting CAO with all of the powers, duties and responsibilities of the CAO, as stated in motion five.

The other three motions clarify that Taylor is immediately put on a leave of absence with pay, that Michaels is authorized and directed to sign and deliver the notice on behalf of Council, as well as authorization to engage the services of legal representatives and other agents to assist in all matters covered in this resolution and related to the employment of the CAO.

Over the past five years, the town has made announcements of hiring four new CAO’s and four interim CAO’s.

Bernie Kreiner lead the town for 21 years from 1993 to 2014, and when he retired from his position, Mike Schwirtz took on the role of CAO.

Schwirtz worked as the CAO in Hinton for two years until he moved on to a new position in another community on June 16, 2017.

Laura Howarth, the town’s director of community services, took on the role of interim CAO while the town worked with a recruitment firm to hire a new CAO.

CAO Stephane Labonne was hired on Oct. 5, 2017 and announced his resignation four months later due to unforeseen family circumstances.

His last day was March 16, 2018 when the director of corporate services at the time, Denise Parent, took over as interim CAO.

Denise Thompson, the previous CAO of Grande Cache, then became the interim CAO shortly before the town announced that she would become Hinton’s permanent CAO in July 2018.

However, Thompson never took on this position and instead moved on to another role.

Mike Koziol, a professional engineer, then acted as interim CAO until CAO Martin Taylor was hired and started in January of 2019.

CAO Taylor came to Hinton with almost 30 years of senior leadership experience in municipal government, and nearly 16 of those years as CAO.

His most recent role before Hinton was spent as the CAO in the Town of Barrhead for 7.5 years.

In the Town of Hinton staffing announcement made on Dec. 5, the town stated that additional public information would be shared over the next week.