by Tristan Turner

Mayor and Council passed a resolution during the Mar. 22 Regular Meeting of Council to formally appoint Andrew Isbister as the Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) for the Town of Morinville.

Mr. Isbister has been employed with the Town of Morinville since December 2009 as the Director of Financial Services. He took over the role of Interim Chief Administrative Officer Jan. 26, following Council unanimously terminating the position of former CAO Debbie Oyarzun.

Town Councils have had a rocky relationship with CAOs in the past. Oyarzun was the fourth Morinville CAO let go since 2006, the most recent being Oyarzun’s predecessor Eddie Doepker in 2011.

A new Council-CAO Relationship Framework is currently in the works for the municipality, and the CAO Bylaw is up for review at an upcoming Governance, Finance and Audit Committee.

Council only had kind words for Isbister at the meeting, however, with Deputy Mayor Ladouceur, who phoned in for the meeting, commenting that “[Isbister] has already been a phenomenal interim CAO.” Other members f Council expressed similar kind words.

“Our Council is delighted that Mr. Isbister has accepted the role of CAO,” said Mayor Lisa Holmes shortly after the meeting. “He is certainly well-versed in Council’s priorities, the opportunities and challenges that are facing our community and his experience will be invaluable. He has our full support and confidence in fulfilling this role, and we look forward to working together.”

Prior to his position with the Town of Morinville, Isbister retired as Treasurer of Edmonton Catholic Schools, which he held between 2000 and 2009. Isbister was also the Secretary Treasurer of Sturgeon School Division from 1998 to 2000. Isbister previously served as the Chief Financial Officer with the town until being named interim CAO.

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1 COMMENT

  1. I’ll identify my personal bias up front, in that I emailed the Mayor towards the end of February asking when the poster advertising the CAO position would be put on the Town’s website as I was potentially interested in it.

    Having said that, and with no disrespect of any kind intended towards Mr. Isbister, I’m very surprised to hear that the Council went this way. You would think that after shelling out $88,000 of our tax dollars to terminate our most recent CAO that they would have been a bit gun-shy at entering into a new contract with anyone, let alone doing it so quickly. I’m glad to hear that Mr. Isbister has done a phenomenal job during his less than two months tenure as interim CAO and that he knows Council’s priorities. However, I would really like to know what was the rush to put a permanent contract in place? What is wrong with someone acting for six months, or even a year while the hiring process plays out? To my knowledge, we hadn’t even started a process before making this move.

    From an accountability to taxpayers standpoint, I would have been very happy to hear that, after a lengthy, well considered and challenging hiring process, our new CAO stood out amongst all the candidates who applied and was duly appointed. I don’t question our new CAO’s qualifications or experience – I question the lack of a thoughtful and deliberate hiring process. What do others think?

    I know personally most of the councillors and Mayor from my years on the library board or doing business in town, so I do not doubt their good intentions and know that they all feel that this decision is in the best interest of the town. However, what makes good sense in the council chamber can be leave those of us sitting on the outside looking wondering the reasoning behind decisions like this. I hope this relatively quick decision goes well for all concerned, especially us taxpayers.

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