WEST HANTS, N.S. — Following a private discussion, West Hants councillors voted in favour of removing the municipality's chief administrative officer from her duties.
The decision came Jan. 9 at the conclusion of West Hants' first council meeting of 2018.
The reason why remains unclear.
After spending time discussing various municipal matters — from organic waste collection to the proposed new hockey arena — West Hants council went in camera to discuss a personnel matter. Around 9:30 p.m., council chambers reopened to the public. As CAO Cathie Osborne was leaving the room, Coun. Tanya Leopold made a motion to end the contract with the CAO effective immediately. Four councillors voted against the motion, six in favour.
Those voting against were Randy Hussey, Rupert Jannasch, Kathy Monroe, and Deputy Warden Paul Morton; in favour were Jennifer Daniels, Debbie Francis, David Keith, Tanya Leopold, Warden Abraham Zebian, and Robbie Zwicker.
When asked for comment, Zebian said an official press release would be issued Jan. 10.
That press release, issued around 3 p.m. Jan. 10, confirmed council ended its contract with Osborne, assured residents it would be business as usual at the municipal office, but offered no reason why Osborne was dismissed.
“She got us through some hard times and difficult times. Council and staff are very appreciative of that and we recognize her dedicated service to us,” said Zebian in a phone interview.
“Going forward, council felt it necessary to move on to a new CAO that can get us to the next point where we want to be,” he said.
Osborne joined the municipality as an interim CAO in July 2014 after West Hants' former CAO went on sick leave and was subsequently charged with assault, which occurred outside of the work environment, and defrauding West Hants. Council voted to hire Osborne on full time when her interim contract was coming due. She was instrumental in ensuring a seamless transition and roll-out of West Hants' unified fire service after the council of the day parted ways with the Windsor Fire Department.
“We'd like to wish Cathie all the best in the future and make sure she knows that we appreciate everything she's done,” Zebian said.
Martin Laycock, the municipality's director of finance, will be filling in as the interim CAO. Zebian said they have already started looking for Osborne's replacement.
“The position of CAO is a very important one and one that is going to take a lot of energy and searching to find the right fit for West Hants.”
Osborne declined to comment on the matter at this time.