Woodstock CAO not returning

·3 min read

Woodstock town hall will begin 2022 with significant changes within its administrative staff.

In a press release issued Tuesday, Jan. 4, the town announced CAO Ken Anthony would not return from the administrative leave of absence he began approximately two months ago.

“Due to personal circumstances, Mr. Anthony will not be returning to his employment with the Town of Woodstock,” the town stated in the release.

The release offered few details surrounding the decision by Anthony, who served as Woodstock CAO for two years.

“In order to respect Mr. Anthony’s right to privacy, we are unable to provide further details concerning the reason for his absence and his decision not to return to his employment with the Town of Woodstock,” the release stated.

Town officials expressed best wishes for Anthony in his future endeavours.

Woodstock Director of Development and Planning Andrew Garnett, who served as interim Chief Administrative Officer during Anthony’s leave, will continue in both roles for the foreseeable future.

Mayor Art Slipp said council would address the temporary roles of CAO and town clerk at the first meeting of 2022 on Jan. 11.

He said that would include renewing Garnett’s appointment as acting or interim CAO for another 90 days, during which time council will make a permanent decision on the position.

“We will decide quite quickly,” Slipp said.

He said council would lay the groundwork for its future administrative plans during a committee-of-the-whole meeting, including whether to hold an open competition for the CAO position.

Slipp said the Jan. 11 meeting would also see council pass a resolution officially appointing the town’s new director of financial services, Kristen Pelkey, who accepted the position in December.

Garnett welcomed Pelkey to the town’s short-staff administrative team.

“She brings a wealth of knowledge with her, and she’s going to be a great benefit to us,” Garnett said.

The loss of Anthony created a second significant hole in Woodstock’s administrative team in 2021. Director of Administrative Services Ann Marie Vautour took an extended medical leave of absence to deal with health issues.

Slipp credited the efforts of Garnett, department heads and the entire town staff for successfully shouldering the workload, which included finalizing the 2022 budget.

He said his many years as mayor and councillor and the experience of Deputy Mayor Amy Anderson helped deal with the unexpected upheaval in administrative staff.

“I’m very comfortable where we’re starting in 2022,” Slipp said.

He said that Anderson, veteran councillor Jeff Bradbury and he offer experience. At the same time, new council members, Trina Jones, Norm Brown and Mark Rogers, quickly adapted to their roles to form a “well-functioning council.”

Anthony became Woodstock CAO in September 2019, replacing John Pinsent, who resigned to return to Ontario. Garnett also served as interim CAO between Pinsent and Anthony.

Slipp said Anthony left a positive impact on the town administration during his two years in the office, citing five areas where he oversaw long-term improvements.

The mayor explained that Anthony carried out evaluations of administrative responsibilities and department heads upon his arrival.

Slipp said he made significant improvements to the operations of public works, including winter equipment and services.

The mayor said the town benefits from Anthony’s work with department heads to enhance long-term planning.

Slipp praised the former CAO for bringing the department heads together to create a collaborative team.

He also praised Anthony’s role in consolidating the town’s many committee meetings into the committee in council, which streamlined committee work and improved transparency.

Slipp said the public can now watch committee-in-council meetings in person or online to see how and why council or administration staff make decisions.

Jim Dumville, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, River Valley Sun

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