More than two weeks after going on leave from the District of Tumbler Ridge, chief administrative officer (CAO) Kim Isaak’s employment status remains unknown.
Isaak’s leave began on February 11. The following Monday, Michele Schalekamp took on the role of acting CAO, and Jim Kincaid joined the district staff on a temporary basis with a title of assistant to the acting CAO. (Kincaid is a former CAO with 20 years of experience.)
Given the legally sensitive nature of the situation, district staff and council have been unable to comment on what comes next, though an in-camera meeting scheduled to take place last night (March 8) may be related. (The meeting took place well after the Tumbler Ridge News’ press deadline.)
The meeting would be closed under Section 90, subsection 1 of the Community Charter, a document that governs how municipalities operate in B.C. That section notes a council meeting may be closed if the meeting subject includes labour relations or other employee relations.
Council spent more than two hours discussing subjects related to “litigation or potential litigation affecting the municipality” and “labour relations or other employee relations,” at a closed session that took place after the February 21 regular council meeting. The closed meeting ran more than twice as long as the regular meeting that night.
As the most senior employee at the district, a CAO is accountable to mayor and council. Under the Community Charter, council has the power to dismiss a CAO, a corporate officer or a finance officer – but those officers must be given a hearing first, at which two-thirds of council would need to affirm their wish to remove the officer to make the dismissal official.
It’s not known if Isaak has had this hearing or not.