February 28th, 2024

City’s CAO role will be filled on rotation for now

By COLLIN GALLANT on February 2, 2022.

cgallant@medicinehatnews.com@CollinGallant

The top administrative position at the City of Medicine Hat will be filled by a rotation of top managers this month while other options are being explored, the News has learned.

City manager Bob Nicolay announced late last month he would leave the role at the end of January, but without a timetable of how the next chief administrator would be hired.

Administrators said at Tuesday’s meeting of the Council Employee Committee that public services managing director Brian Mastel is delegated as acting city manager for the first half of February. Rochelle Pancoast, head of the city’s “strategic management and analysis” office, will then take over until the beginning of March.

“Beyond that, we’ve not determined, but there will be more clarity as we go forward,” said corporate services managing director Dennis Egert.

Nicolay’s original contract, signed in late 2018, was set to expire in October 2021, but since the new council term was set to begin at that time, it was extended by the previous council to provide continuity.

He said in a Jan. 21 city release that since the 2022 budget was in place and strategic planning about begin, he would step aside, and that council was working on a succession plan.

Nicolay’s last working day was Jan. 31, though vacation, accumulated sick time and overtime accumulated during the pandemic response will see the position open up officially in early July.

Tuesday marked the second meeting of the “Council Employee” committee of council, formed by Mayor Linnsie Clark in December.

A top order of business is to determine a new framework for evaluating the job performance of the city manager – a move that comes after Hatters elected seven new councillors last fall to fill nine council seats.

Committee chair, Coun. Shila Sharps, said the changes are the result of familiarizing the new council with a process to engage top managers.

“This isn’t about anything other than helping us learn how to do our job,” she said during discussion.

Egert said the city has had a well-established process to evaluate the city manager’s job performance and set strategic goals, but “council has expressed a want to revisit that and create a new framework.”

In other business at committee level Monday, members discussed the upcoming employee engagement survey and heard hiring for a new chief of staff and a communications position would proceed through typical practice by the human resources department.

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