The Town of St. Paul is opening their search for a new Chief Administrative Officer after current CAO Kim Heyman announced her plans to retire at the end of August earlier this year.
Heyman has been the CAO for the Town of St. Paul for three years, bringing grace and stability to the town’s administration following the turbulence of 2016 and 2017. Harvey Filger was fired from the role in March 2016, while his successor Holly Habiak’s departure was a mutual decision with the town.
Heyman’s retirement comes as no surprise as Mayor Maureen Miller noted at the Feb. 8 council meeting that she [Heyman] has been “very transparent from her hiring that she would not do this forever.”
At the Committee of the Whole meeting Mar. 11, council discussed the job description for the position and the plan for advertising for candidates.
One change to be made to the job description and posting as a result of that conversation is the addition of a requirement for the CAO to live within the Town of St. Paul, a requirement not seen in all other communities in the region.
The deadline for applications will be 4 p.m. on April 6th so as to avoid conflict with Easter Monday.
According to St. Paul Mayor Maureen Miller, the town is budgeting for two months of overlap between hiring and starting the new CAO and Heyman’s departure, so the goal is to have the new CAO in place before Canada Day. Miller proposed a deadline of May 10, giving council a week to shortlist candidates and another week for interviews, with the new hire then able to give a month’s notice to their current employer.
Heyman cautioned against too tight a timeline, saying one of the reasons she gave her notice as early as she did is so that if “during the first round you didn’t find anybody you liked there is a chance to advertise again.”
Boisvert questioned if the incoming CAO would want to be working with the outgoing CAO for a full two months. Heyman said she didn’t see it as them working together directly for that entire time so much as her finding another workspace and having time to wrap some things up.
Also discussed was whether or not the town should advertise internally first for an interim position as suggested by Coun. Nathan Taylor. Taylor felt a temporary position would give current staff the opportunity to apply and have a trial run of sorts before making a decision about taking the position on a permanent basis and also leave the final call on the permanent CAO up to the incoming council, which will be elected in October 2021.
Miller said she could certainly see the benefits of such an opportunity, but that it would also create staffing challenges depending on who applied, because “we’d have to hold that other position for that same timeframe.”
Coun. Ron Boisvert was not in favour of the interim CAO position, because of the impact it could have on town departments.
“It might not be justified to that to that department if they lose their person and they don’t have anybody directly with them. They might they have them in the organization, but they don’t have them around,” said Boisvert.
“My only concern with that is you then have a year another a year of uncertainty for everybody, for two major positions in the organization. So I think that’s one thing to be considered. I’m not sure that’s a reason not to do it. But it would certainly I don’t think it would be ideal,” said Heyman. She noted internal candidates are not prevented from applying for the job if the CAO position is advertised externally.
Coun. Gary Ward was also against the temporary position.
“I think our responsibility as a community is to keep everything going and bring somebody in that is knowledgeable and has been let’s hopefully in this position before, whether it be a smaller, larger community, but has all the knowledge and the insight to help us continue growing the way that we are,” said Ward.
The town will begin advertising for the position immediately.