County hires governance consultant

By staff

Sturgeon County – County Council voted 4-0 Feb. 15 in favour of hiring Chris Sheard of Fairman Holt Inc. to work with Sturgeon County Council in order for it to become an effective and functional governance body.

The consultant search began after County Council unanimously approved a motion by Sturgeon County Councillor Karen Shaw Jan. 10 to get some assistance in working together as a team. Councillor Shaw said she was motivated to make the motion after reading a editorial that called out County Council for being dysfunctional. Shaw said she had felt things were improving since the editorial, published Oct. 11, but decorum at the Dec. 13 meeting of Council, and a subsequent article on the meeting, made her aware things had in fact not improved.

In discussing the consultant search Feb. 14, Interim CAO Peter Tarnawsky said there were 10 expressions of interest received from consulting firms by the County’s deadline. Most of those were outside the amount of funds County Council had at its disposal for the initiative. Council had previously cut $50,000 from its 2012 budget, and the second part of Shaw’s Jan. 10 motion indicated funding for the consultant should come from Council’s budget.

Tarnawsky said provincial grant money was available for such an initiative, but if Council wished to act immediately, administration recommended Fairman Holt Inc. Sheard is well regarded in the business and is a past chair of the Capital Region Board.

Shaw, who had made the original motion Jan. 10 moved to hire Sheard’s firm. “If Mr. Sheard can’t get us where we need to be, there isn’t any amount of money in the world that can get us to where we need to be,” Shaw said. “It’s got a far more to do with the willingness to undertake good governance than anything else. I think that is definitely the road I want to go down and see what level of commitment council has.”

The other councillors present at Tuesday’s meeting shared Shaw’s viewpoint that the hiring of Sheard could get them closer to where they need to be.

“I think it would potentially bring us down the road to where we want to get to,” said Councillor Tom Flynn. “It’s a worthwhile run at it.”

Councillor Joe Milligan is hoping for results but accepts those results will be directly proportional to the level of commitment the seven-member council puts to the initiative. “You can lead a horse to water but you cannot make him drink,” he said.
Mayor Rigney and Councillors Don McGeachy and David Kluthe were not in attendance at the Feb. 14 council meeting due to their need to attend an Oil Summit in Calgary.

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