Meaford CAO Rob Armstrong is no longer with the Municipality after a sudden retirement announcement was distributed on Tuesday of this week, and council is currently searching for a replacement.
Armstrong had worked for the Municipality of Meaford for 14 years, first in the Planning and Building Department, and since 2018 he has served as Chief Administrative Officer.
Though Armstrong’s departure has been characterized by the Municipality as a retirement, the suddenness of his departure has been cause for speculation that he was let go by a vote of council during a special closed session meeting held on Friday, August 4. At the conclusion of the August 4 special closed session meeting, Mayor Ross Kentner advised that council had given direction to staff to “negotiate a contract with a candidate for CAO.”
The CAO position is the only position that council can directly hire, fire, or give direction. All other municipal staff ultimately report to the CAO.
Armstrong was away on vacation when the special meeting of council was held.
Contacted by The Independent, Armstrong’s only comment was that he will miss working for the municipality.
“I will miss working with the supportive and committed staff and the numerous people in the community,” Armstrong told The Independent.
Mayor Ross Kentner told The Independent that he has enjoyed working with Armstrong.
“As mayor, I have enjoyed working closely with Rob. He is a champion of our community and Council wishes him every success as he embarks on the next phase of his career which I understand may include offering consulting services,” Kentner told The Independent.
Armstrong was born in Toronto but has lived in Meaford since 1989. In 2011 he told The Independent that he chose to make his home in Meaford because he enjoys the community feel of small town Ontario, and both of his parents are from the area; his mother is from Meaford, and his father is from Thornbury. Prior to taking his post with the Municipality of Meaford in 2009, Armstrong had worked for the Town of the Blue Mountains for nearly 17 years, and before that he worked for the County of Grey from 1987 until 1991.
According to the press release issued on Tuesday, and confirmed in conversation with Mayor Kentner, council is currently searching for a replacement.
“The Municipality has started the search for a suitable candidate to fill the critical role of CAO. The Clerk/Director of Community Services, Matt Smith, will perform the role of Acting CAO until the search process is complete,” read the press release issued by the municipality.
Mayor Kentner told The Independent that while council is hoping to find a replacement CAO in the near future, he noted that Meaford “got along without a CAO for a long time,” and he said that council will take the time needed to “get it right”.