Crossfield terminates CAO

Chief Administrative Officer Cheryl Skelly worked for the Town of Crossfield for 24 years. Council discussed purchasing luggage to thank her for her years of service.
Chief Administrative Officer Cheryl Skelly worked for the Town of Crossfield for 24 years. Council discussed purchasing luggage to thank her for her years of service.

At the regular meeting on Dec. 16, Crossfield Mayor Nathan Anderson put forward a motion to terminate its current Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Cheryl Skelly’s contract — without cause.

Councillor Jason Harvey said the motion to re-evaluate Skelly’s employment as CAO is from a previous in-camera meeting in late September. A date hadn’t been confirmed as of press time.

Harvey said he voted against the in-camera motion to terminate Skelly’s contract at every opportunity, and his vote against this public motion was a testament to his original opposition.

“I didn’t feel we had sufficient reason or cause to not renew the contract with the CAO, but the decision was made by council and steps were taken to find a new CAO,” Harvey said.

“Last nights vote was to formalize her notice.”

Councillor Jo Tennant also voted against the motion alongside Harvey while Anderson and Councillor James Ginter voted for the motion to terminate.

Because of Councillor Hadi Feltham absent due to sickness, the motion was deadlocked until Anderson explained the motion was just a formality and the offer letter for the new CAO would be signed the next morning at 9 a.m.

Both Tennant and Harvey changed their votes as a result, causing the motion to pass unanimously — though both gave their own motions to thank the CAO for her over 20 years of service to the Town of Crossfield.

“The decision was already made,” Harvey said. “Voting was just a formality.”

According to the Municipal Governments Act, Crossfield council needed a majority vote on the original motion to terminate Skelly’s employment, which Harvey said was the case in the original September in-camera meeting. The motion to terminate in the Dec. 16 meeting, he said, was meant as formal announcement of their intentions to terminate Skelly and appoint the new CAO.

“(This is) the hardest meeting as the mayor and the hardest motions I’ve had to make,” Anderson said in council.

“I think the world of our CAO and she has been a tremendous asset to this town and there’s a lot to learn from her example.”

Councillor James Ginter, who voted for the motion to terminate both times, said the new hire will give a new energy and direction to the Town, which in his opinion is what council wants.

“It’ll give our staff a new set of eyes, energize (the office) and make some more efficiencies,” Ginter said.

“As with anyone’s life, you get stuck in the ways because it’s the way we’ve always done it.”

Ginter said council wanted to see how much bang they could get for their buck and that it may become customary to open up CAO positions to competition regularly.

Rocky View Weekly contacted council in late November after seeing the CAO job advertised online, and was told by council it was customary to open the job up to others.

Anderson refused to name the new CAO at the Dec. 16 meeting, claiming the secrecy is out of respect for Skelly’s authority in her position until the end of her contract.

“I’m not overly interested in embracing and talking a lot about the new CAO until we’ve made the transition,” Anderson said.

“Cheryl is at the helm right now and it’s important for staff to recognize her authority and work hard for her until the end of the month.”

Anderson then presented a motion for council to accept the offer letter to the CAO candidate so it could be signed the next day, which was passed unanimously. Ginter confirmed the candidate signed the offer letter on Dec. 17 and will start on Jan. 5.

“(Skelly) certainly worked for the Town for a long time and it was decided by council that change was desired and we’re working hard to represent the needs of the town,” Harvey said.

Skelly was not available for comment as of press time.

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