New Interim CAO; Hiring Committee Formed

Sara Golling
By Sara Golling
January 14th, 2016

Council Matters:

What about that CAO position?

At the regular meeting of Rossland City Council on January 11, 2016, new Interim Chief Administrative Officer, Lynne Burch, made her first public appearance at City Hall. 

Former CAO/CFO Cecile Arnott left the position on December 18, 2015, and Council interviewed four people who had been recommended to fill in on an interim basis; Lynne Burch “seemed the best fit for our needs” at this time.   The temporary Chief Financial Officer, local businessman Steve Ash, was also present.  For the City’s December press release on these hires,  please see below this report;  the Rossland Telegraph did not receive that release, or answers to questions your reporter had asked earlier, because of a technical difficulty with the City’s e-mail system.

Council has formed a hiring committee, composed of Mayor Kathy Moore and Councillors Marten Kruysse, Lloyd McLellan and Andrew Zwicker, to work on finding the best available long-term CAO and CFO for Rossland.

There was no Public Input, and no delegation.

Council dealt  expeditiously with the business  on the public agenda:

Council  briefly discussed the RDBK Contribution Agreement about the costs of the sewer pipe crossing of the Columbia River;  the recent version makes it more clear, said Moore, that Rossland will contribute only to the sewer pipe crossing, not to the costs of the pedestrian bridge.

Council then gave first, second and third readings to Bylaw 2603 — a “Revenue Anticipation” bylaw, which is required as a term of the City’s contract with the Nelson and District Credit Union.   The bylaw authorizes borrowing to cover any cash-flow shortages before the City receives  property tax payments.

Rossland Winter Carnival submitted an additional request  for the extended use of Spokane Street for a new event — a “Snow Skate Downhill” to be held at noon on Sunday, January 31.   A motion to grant the request CARRIED  unanimously.

FireSmart Grant:  Rossland has been approved for a $10,000 grant for further fire hazard reduction;  this will enable  work with homeowners to reduce risks on private property around Rossland’s perimeter.  Former grants have specifically excluded any work on private property.

Multi-Year Community Food Action Initiative:  This initiative has been driven by Councillor Andrew Zwicker and other members of the “Rossland REAL Food” group.  Rossland submitted a “Letter of Intent” to apply for funding of $45,000 over a period of three years for a Community Food Action Initiative.   Fourteen communities submitted such letters from around the province.  Seven were invited to submit a full application, and only three will be successful in obtaining the three-year grant.  Rossland  is among the seven  invited to submit a full application.    Zwicker sought confirmation from Council that the City  would commit to making a contribution of up to $20,000 over three years, and a motion to that effect  CARRIED. 

Reviewing a report on the Museum Gateway Project,  Moore noted that there were a lot of recommendations, but no costs included;  she wanted  to ensure that Council  “received” the report, without “approving” the eventual and so-far unidentified  costs of all the recommendations.   Council  agreed.  Moore also questioned the fact that so many of the experts involved are from the Okanagan;  “Shop local!” she urged.

Washington Street Project Reporting:  A template for reporting costs and progress on the project was included with the materials, and Moore commented that similar templates are planned for other capital projects.  

Council directed staff to draft a policy on the acceptable uses of technology.

Members’ Reports:

McLellan spoke about population projections and actual numbers.   Communities’  voting on certain  RDKB issues is weighted according to population.  A new federal census may be happening this year, but no changes in the weighting of votes can happen until those figures are available.

John  Greene spoke about the different programs at Red, such as Canadian Ski Quest and their “Non-stop” program and their  week-long ski camps;  Red Mountain Racers and their numerous events, and the Canadian Open Free Skiing Event;  and the “Get Lost” year-round adventure centre at Red,  and the many hundreds of people these attractions bring to Rossland every year.   

Moore reported on  a meeting with Selkirk College  students in  Environmental Planning;   students picked projects  to work on from items listed in  Rossland’s Strategic  Sustainability Plan and will ultimately hold an Open House to present  their findings.

Drivers take note:  there will be temporary road closures January 18 to March 1, in locations suggested for  permanent closure in the Washington Street Project.  The temporary closures  will allow residents to see how they are affected by the  plan , and give them an opportunity to provide the City with input.

Andy Morel spoke of comments from residents that there has been a lot of speeding around town, and we have not had a speed board yet,  and no noticeable  enforcement.  A truck was observed passing a car in the school zone;  and there was recently a crash in upper Rossland.  Council discussed contacting the RCMP again, as the police had expressed willingness to help with enforcement of the new, lower speed limits in town.

Council Recessed  to an in camera  session  pursuant to Community  Charter Sections  90(1)(a), (c)  and (e).   Your reporter suppressed a very  uncharacteristic  urge to head for the brighter lights of Rossland and savour a drink or two somewhere, since so much of the evening was still available,  but crunched home on the ice and snow instead.

The City Hall  Press Release from December 18th, 2015:

“Rossland Council is pleased to announce that we have retained the services of two experienced and qualified individuals to temporarily fill key roles in City Hall. With the immediate departure of Ms. Cecile Arnott, our current Chief Administrative Officer/Chief Financial Officer, we sought to divide the job into a more traditional configuration: Chief Administrative Officer/Corporate Officer (CAO/CO)  and Manager of Finance. These will be short-term contracts while we conduct an open and competitive hiring process for both of these senior management positions. We want to take some time to find the right fit for Rossland.

“Ms. Lynne Burch has had a long and successful career in local government. She worked her way up through the ranks to become the Corporate Officer in Grand Forks; a position she held for several decades. During her tenure she was called on to be the Acting Chief Administrative Officer multiple times. For the last three years, prior to her retirement, she was hired as the CAO for Grand Forks and enjoyed the top spot very much.

“Ms. Burch has excellent people skills as well as strong corporate officer credentials and experience. In the two or three months she will be with us, we look forward to learning new ways to professionally organize and manage the City of Rossland. Her primary role will be to provide the overall leadership for the corporation and work towards implementing Council’s strategic plan.  She will work closely with the finance department to ensure that we are providing good value for taxpayer money in everything we do. Careful monitoring of our major capital projects as well as ensuring that our next budget and five year financial plan are created in a fiscally responsible manner will top the “to do” list.

“Mr. Steve Ash will be an expert financial advisor to the City of Rossland for an estimated period of up to three months.  Mr. Ash will assist City Council and Staff with a review of its current financial situation, future impacts of anticipated operating and capital expenditures, and business and taxation strategy.

“Mr. Ash will also review the City’s financial policies and procedures, finance department staffing, procurement and asset management.Finally, Mr. Ash will advise the CAO/CO and Council on the hiring of a permanent Chief Financial Officer (CFO)

Mr. Ash has an MBA with a very strong finance and business background.  Many Rossland residents will know Mr. Ash as the former CFO of West Kootenay Power and later President of West Kootenay Power.  Others will know of Mr. Ash’s community involvement including the Red Mountain Ski Club and the Rossland Sustainability Commission and as a businessman in Rossland for the last thirty years.

“Council looks forward to Ms. Burch’s and Mr. Ash’s role as key team players in the City’s transition toward long-term financial viability and strengthening the taxpayer’s trust in their local government.”

For Further Information Contact:

Kathy Moore, Mayor

250 521-1500


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