$138,590 payout to Revelstoke CAO who worked for the city for 5 months

Freedom of information request filed by revelstokemountaineer.com reveals payout to third permanent CAO in the current mayor and council's term.

File photo: A wildfire smoke tinged sunset on July 15, 2021 casts a pink hue onto the white Revelstoke City Hall. Photo: Aaron Orlando/Revelstoke Mountaineer Magazine

The City of Revelstoke paid out $138,590 to a Chief Administrative Officer who was in the position for just over five months in late 2021 and early 2022.

The information was revealed through a freedom of information request filed with the city by revelstokemountaineer.com.

The payout was in addition to the salary received by former CAO James Thackray, who started as CAO in early October 2021. In March 2022, the city sent a brief statement to local media outlets including revelstokemountaineer.com saying that Thackray was no longer with the city.

Thackray is the third permanent CAO to leave the city since the current council started its term in late 2018. Also, in late August 2021, the city announced the hiring of another CAO, then announced a week later he was no longer taking the position.

In addition, the city has had an interim CAO, Ron Mattiussi, for two periods in 2021 and now in 2022.

Mattiussi is a former city manager with the City of Kelowna who now runs a municipal government consulting business, R.L. Mattiussi Advisory Services Inc.

Following the departure of the second CAO in April 2021, the city announced the hiring of Mattiussi as interim CAO, saying his main role was recruiting a permanent replacement.

A month after the departure of Thackray, the city announced in April 2022 it had re-hired Mattiussi as interim CAO on a part-time basis. During Thackray’s tenure with Revelstoke, Mattiussi remained involved with the city for some of the period in an undefined senior role.

During his time in Revelstoke, he has also served as CAO in Village Of Lytton, where he was in charge of leading the rebuilding process after the village was destroyed by fire in 2021. He is now listed as Approving Officer with the Village of Lytton.

In April 2022, the city issued a statement saying that it was contracting two different companies, one to perform a organization assessment, another to hire a new CAO.

Innova Strategy Group was announced as the company performing an “organization assessment.”

On the Innova Strategy Group website, interim CAO Ron Mattiussi is listed as one of 12 team members with the company.

Tall Cedars Search and Recruitment was announced as the company in charge of recruiting a new CAO.

On the Tall Cedars Search and Recruitment website, Mattiussi is listed as one of six associates with the company.

The city has since posted job advertisements for the CAO position on job search websites.

The search for a replacement CAO comes just three months before the B.C. General Local Elections on October 15, 2022, when mayor and council seats will be up for election.

To access the information, revelstokemountaineer.com filed the freedom of information request on Mar. 23, 2022. City of Revelstoke staff provided the requested information on July 7, 2022. Excluded staff remuneration is considered public information and local media requests over the years for access to the information have been consistently upheld.

Allan Chabot, the first CAO to leave during the current mayor and council’s term, who the city said had “resigned,” was paid a “salary continuance” of $163,322, plus benefits. Past CAO payout packages have topped $200,000.

Analysis: An expensive revolving door

Qualified workers are hard to come by in Revelstoke these days and a new Chief Administrative Officer is no exception.

A suitable candidate needs extensive experience and knowledge of municipal government processes to be successful at the complex job.

There is a finite available talent pool in ‘municipal world,’ an informal word for the networked group of local government professionals in the province and region. Connection to the informal network is key for municipal staff at smaller municipalities seeking to advance their careers because it opens doors to promotion opportunities at other municipalities.

Anyone considering the CAO job in Revelstoke would take pause to note the three recent CAO departures under the current mayor and council. Revelstoke’s reputation now as a place to build a career isn’t optimal.

Timing is also key with the October election just three months away. Generally, there is high turnover of CAO positions in B.C. in the months after the province-wide election as new mayors and councils seek to set new directions for the municipality.

For a good candidate, locking into Revelstoke now would mean foregoing other opportunities in the late fall, and also potentially getting caught up in a post-election shuffle here — albeit with a potential payout: the upcoming election and recent high CAO turnover are both leverage points for the candidate to negotiate a healthy compensation clause just in case.

For background, see revelstokemountaineer.com’s analysis from March 2022 covering ongoing dysfunction issues at city hall.

Aaron Orlando is a Revelstoke-based journalist who serves as creative director of revelstokemountaineer.com and Revelstoke Mountaineer Magazine. He's been on the news beat in Revelstoke for the past 14 years, serving in senior editorial roles. If you have aaron@revelstokemountaineer.com or call/text him at 250-814-8710.