Town Council votes to end contract with CAO

Edie Doepker is shown in this file photo taken during Morinville's centennial celebrations in April.
By Stephen Dafoe

Morinville – While most town employees have been clearing out their desks in preparation for the temporary move to the Morinville Parish Hall; one Town employee cleaned out her desk for good Thursday afternoon. In a 4-2 vote late Wednesday afternoon, Morinville Town Council voted to terminate its contract with Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Edie Doepker.

Council had called the special meeting for 5 p.m. July 13, the day after their regular council meeting. After calling the meeting to order, Council immediately went in camera which prohibited media from observing what was discussed. When the public meeting resumed, council voted on what had been discussed in private – the ending of Doepker’s contract.
That recorded vote was a 4-2 decision in favour of ending the contract, Councillors Ben Van de Walle, Nicole Boutestein, Gordon Boddez and Lisa Holmes voting in favour, Mayor Lloyd Bertschi and Councillor Paul Krauskopf voting in opposition. Councillor David Pattison did not attend Wednesday night’s special meeting of council.

Reasons for Doepker’s removal were not elaborated on or answered and any potential factors leading up to the vote were not discussed in the public portion of the meeting.

Doepker came to Morinville as Chief Administrative Officer two years ago after two decades as a senior executive in the public sector. Her previous municipal and private sector roles include being a principal at Edie Doepker & Associates, General Manager Leisure and Parks Services for the City of Coquitlam, and Director of the Business Families Centre at University of British Columbia, Sauder School of Business.

Under Doepker’s term as CAO, Morinville developed a new brand and corporate identity, completed an extensive Municipal Sustainability Plan to guide the community over the next quarter century, and implemented a series of short- and long-range business plans. Additionally, it was under Doepker’s guidance as CAO that the Town of Morinville expanded its administrative staffing by approximately 18 positions. While the former initiatives remain largely unknown in the community, the hiring of so many new positions met with opposition from some members of council and the public during 2011 budget talks.

One of those positions added in the 2011 budget year was that of Deputy Chief Administrative Officer. That position was recently filled by Debbie Oyarzun who will now assume the role of Acting CAO for the Town of Morinville in Doepker’s absence.

According to the Town of Morinville’s website, “The Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) ensures the programs and services of the Town of Morinville are delivered in accordance with Council approved policy in a professional, effective and efficient manner. The CAO is responsible for motivating and developing skills of department heads and their staff to foster productivity, professionalism and high morale. The CAO, reporting directly to Town Council, has general control and manages the administration of the government and affairs of the corporation.”

The termination of Doepker’s contract is the second termination of a CAO in Morinville in the past two years, and the third change of CAOs since 2006. will continue to report on this story as details become available.

UPDATE 3:20 P.M.

The following press release was issued late Thursday afternoon

Morinville sets new direction
Morinville, Alberta….The Town of Morinville has begun the search for a new Chief Administrative Officer.
Mayor R. Lloyd Bertschi stated: “In a 4 to 2 vote on Wednesday, July 13, 2011, Council decided to move in a new direction. Edie Doepker did a great job for us and we will miss her. We wish Edie well in her future endeavours.”
In the interim, Debbie Oyarzun takes on duties as the acting Chief Administrative Officer, Bertschi announced.
The Town of Morinville is a vibrant, growing community north of the City of Edmonton. With a population of 7,636, Morinville views itself as a healthy business and residential community that offers a rich quality of life in a small town setting.

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1 Comment

  1. Ok, we need to have these elected officials explain this new direction they are acting on. What does this entail, you have given us no explaination to justify your actions. You acted with out the full majority of council at the table. One elected official was missing, we did not hear his vote or have him do the job he was elected for. He represents the people that voted for him and they did not get the entitlement that was due to them.

    To the town staff, You are the backbone of our community. You will have to go the extra mile to make up for this serious lack of judgement by our elected officials. Please know that the town is behind you and respect you for all the hard work that you do everyday.

    To the residents of our great town, When are we going to finally stand up and say enough. Get your act together or step down. If the job you were elected for is to much to handle, then step aside. We thank you for your service. Our town is more than just a corporation it is our home, our way of life and we love it.

    To the Premier: Help us, we can’t keep having a revolving door to our town office, we are hurting and need guideance. Our direction keeps changing to where nobody knows.

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