Billings clerk Kathy McDonald retiring after 18 years

Kathy McDonald

KAGAWONG—With the impending retirement of Billings township clerk CAO Kathy McDonald, Billings council considered planning for Ms. McDonald’s and other future vacancies in management positions within the township.

“There is a good background in our meeting agenda package for planning for future vacancies in management positions, and this is a valid time to think about this,” said Billings Mayor Ian Anderson at a special council meeting last week. “I am publicly announcing that Kathy will be retiring in November. Kathy McDonald has been an intricate part of the township staff for the past 18 years.”

“So, Billings will have a huge void to fill,” stated Mayor Anderson. “And November will come along very quickly and we will continue to count on Kathy’s advice and guidance from now until November and to fill the position as well. I don’t think we are going to make our decision tonight on how we are going to fill her position but we can look at the three options that were provided and the pros and cons of each.”

Mayor Anderson outlined the three options, hiring from within the township staff, advertising, recruiting  for the position outside of the organization by the township and hiring a recruitment agency to advertise and recruit select candidates on behalf of the township.

Councillors were asked to provide their preference on the option that the township should be looking at. 

Councillor Michael Hunt said, “I think we could start with option one, to fill the position from within our organization. If that fails, go to option two, advertising and recruiting. And if this fails, go to option three.”

“That is a reasonable progression and it is good that you provided your top three options in order,” said Mayor Anderson. 

“I agree with councillor Hunt. Staff who already work here have a vested interest in the area, they know the job and have demonstrated that they can handle the job,” said Councillor Sharon Jackson. “If not, we could look at option two. Option three would be the last option I would choose because of the cost and time involved, and with headhunters, all they are trying to do is fill the position with someone.” 

Councillor Bryan Barker indicated that along with encouraging staff  to apply for the position, he was in favour of option two to advertise the position locally and off-island including, for example, municipal association organizations. “I’m not suggesting that we can’t fill the position internally, but it is critical that if we are going to fill the position, it needs to be done sooner than later. I think we need to be looking at a broader scope. The CAO position is one that where we need someone who would be the best qualified and I think we need to open as many doors as possible.” 

Councillor Sharon Alkenbrack said, “I can remember when we were looking to fill the position Kathy has. We had two good candidates but we obviously chose the best candidate. We advertised internally  but off-Island as well. If someone internally wants the job and applies and is hired, that would be awesome but if we have to advertise, even if it costs $1,000, if  we get the best candidate it is worth it.”

Mayor Anderson noted he is in agreement with both councillors Barker and Alkenbrack, that the township should start advertising for the position. “And this definitely does not mean anyone in the organization can’t apply, we encourage this.” By looking internally and advertising the position it speeds up the process. “It is a really good starting place. Unless council is adamant about making a decision tonight let’s reflect on all of this and bring this back to regular council for a final decision on how we are going to proceed.”