Unlimited authority is ‘inappropriate’
White Rock’s city manager is recommending changes to a bylaw that allows him unrestricted financial discretion when settling legal claims against the city.
Dan Bottrill called the “unlimited authority” given to him as chief administrative officer (CAO) through the City of White Rock Officers and Employers Bylaw, adopted in 2008, uncalled for.
“With respect to powers, duties and responsibilities of the CAO, the current bylaw authorizes the CAO – one of the issues that I found a little interesting – to authorize settlements of claims against the municipality and there is no limitation on this authority,” he said at last week’s governance and legislation committee meeting.
“In my opinion, this unlimited authority (is) inappropriate.”
Bottrill told Peace Arch News the move to restrict that authority was not prompted by anything “unusual” occurring in the city with respect to legal claims.
At the Oct. 1 meeting, he proposed a new bylaw that would limit the amount he can authorize when settling claims, while also raising the amount he is able to award to city contracts to $250,000 from $150,000.
“A survey has indicated… $250,000 was more in alignment with other local governments,” he said.
The survey looked at nine Metro Vancouver municipalities, including Surrey, Chilliwack, Burnaby and Delta.
Another issue of the bylaw that was noted by Bottrill was the exclusion of the city clerk, Tracey Arthur, as an officer of the city.
According to Bottrill, it is common in municipalities for the city clerk to also act as corporate officer.
“The (White Rock) CAO was assigned the statutory duties of corporate officer and, as I had mentioned, it’s a little unusual. Corporate officer is generally assigned to city clerk. So the bylaw did not do that,” he said. “And in fact, the previous CAO delegated that by correspondence to the city clerk. So there is a letter now to the city clerk to do that.”
The new bylaw, titled the City of White Rock Officer and Indemnification Bylaw, was supported by Mayor Wayne Baldwin.
The committee voted to recommend council approve the bylaw.