Council agrees to extend CAO severance
Wednesday, Oct 11, 2017 06:00 am
Black Diamond council is extending the timeframe to pay severance pay to its chief administrative officer (CAO) if the position is terminated without just cause.
Black Diamond Town council agreed last month to amend the terms of employment for the CAO position to include a one-year severance package.
“That is normal under a professional status on severance pay,” said the Town’s CAO Sharlene Brown. “Some people get two years, some people get six months. Industry-wide it’s normally a year.”
When Brown was hired last year, she said the agreement was for two weeks and was then extended to three months.
Amending the term to one year was a request that came from Brown. She said it wasn’t related to amalgamation talks between Black Diamond and Turner Valley.
“I’m not asking for an increase in salary, I’m asking that if I’m terminated without just cause that this be included into the employment contract,” she said. “It’s a clause in the employment agreement to protect the person in this position and protect the Town in the case of wrongful dismissal.
“In my background I’ve dealt with a lot of situations where people were involved in wrongful dismissals suits and the expense to the organization is quite high unless there is something written into the contract which protects the organization.”
Deputy Mayor Mike Ross, who made the motion, said council made the decision based on information collected on severance packages from other towns.
“We took places from all over the province that were a similar size to see what they had in place for their people,” he said. “It was at the lower end. The highest is about three years plus the cost of moving.”
Deciding to increase the time of the severance package was an easy decision based on Brown’s education and experience, said Ross.
“She had such an understanding of the issues and everything that there wasn’t a lot she had to learn about how the town works and what is happening,” he said. “She was coming in with a lot of experience. She came in as having years on council and as former mayor. When somebody is working that hard for our town you’ve got to treat them decent.”
Brown said her annual salary is $95,000, which falls on the lower end of the average for Alberta towns. The range for salaries is $13,800 to $363,000 for Alberta towns, with the average salary for the position being $130,000, she said.
Turner Valley CAO Barry Williamson said most municipalities don’t publicize details on employee severance packages and wouldn’t release details about his own.
“The only thing you will see is how much every CAO is paid but they won’t reveal the conditions of the contracts,” he said. “It’s privileged information.”