Thursday, June 13, 2024

No Need For Panic

By Stephen Vance, Editor

Meaford may have lost two of their top ten administrators in the first few weeks of the new year, but there isn’t likely much reason to assume that the sky is falling, and other senior managers will begin an exodus from our municipality.


We also don’t need to worry that the loss of the CAO and the Director of Human Resources will cause the administration of the municipality to fall apart and grind to a halt.


No matter how any individual views CAO Frank Miele and his time spent as the top dog in the Municipality of Meaford, one thing is certain, he is leaving this municipality in better shape than it was when he arrived.


Miele hasn’t always been the most popular guy in town. Some of his initiatives haven’t exactly been embraced by the community – the re-branding of Meaford as “The Other Big Apple,” or the proposed waste to energy facility are two examples that come to mind. And it can be argued that some segments of the community have been alienated during Miele’s three years in Meaford. Differences of opinion are to be expected no matter who is driving the bus.


But CAO Frank Miele if nothing else, has assembled a very capable and dedicated senior management team who have developed a comprehensive set of policies and procedures that ensure that the municipality will run smoothly in spite of the occasional comings and goings of a manager or two.


Some of the members of the senior management team were here when Miele arrived, and others have come aboard since, and while one can complain about rising taxes, discontent within one segment or another, or any number of individual issues that can be raised, there is no denying that the municipal administration office now seems to be a well oiled machine.


Miele should be given credit for that. That doesn’t mean that one should not take a critical view at his approach to issues, or his apparent disconnect with the wants and desires of residents of a rural municipality, but if you want to highlight such shortfalls, then you also have to acknowledge the positive aspects of his time in Meaford.


Meaford’s council will now no doubt be scrambling to replace the CAO and the Director of Human Resources, and while that is an understandable reaction to these two resignations, it is hoped that council explore all possibilities – including not hiring a CAO at all.


In this day and age, having someone to manage human resources is critical to any organization. Navigating the labyrinth of employment standards legislation, and workplace health and safety regulations is a daunting task, and it is wise to have a senior manager dedicated to just that.


The need for a CAO in a small, rural municipality though, can be debated.


The Municipal Act doesn’t require a municipality to employ a CAO. A clerk is a requirement, as is a treasurer, but a CAO is optional, and some small municipalities like near-by Arran-Elderslie have decided to ditch the position all together.


For Meaford that might make some sense.


With the strong management team currently in place, and the wealth of policies and procedures that have been developed over the last few years, it might be worth taking some time to see how the machine runs without a dedicated CAO. Many municipalities have a Treasurer-slash-CAO, or a Clerk-slash-CAO, and perhaps Meaford should consider this model.


With the framework that we now have in place, thanks in part to the leadership of Miele, it just might be worth a try. Not to mention, that it would save a few bucks along the way.


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