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CAO job offer to be sweetened

Fort Erie’s bloc of four town councillors love Dev Tyagi so much — and one of them never even met him — they’re willing to up the ante for the job of chief administrative officer.

Unable to reach terms with Mr. Tyagi in July as the successful candidate for the job, councillors Paul Collard, John Hill, Don Lubberts and Bob Steckley decided Tuesday night to re-open negotiations with him.

Left standing at the altar again, as it were, is acting CAO Ron Tripp, the number zero candidate in the eyes of the bloc.

From discussions among councillors and staff at Tuesday’s council meeting, it became clear that Tyagi wanted more money than was offered.

The position was advertised in the range of $122,000 to $146,000 per year.

Tyagi is listed on the Ontario sunshine list as having earned $152,000 in his last full year as general manager of public works for the City of Windsor in 2008.

He resigned from the job in September 2009 and earned $159,000 that year. His current position and salary is not known.

The last CAO, Harry Schlange, earned approximately $140,000 his last full year.

Council voted 4-3 on July 16 to hire Tyagi. The Town issued a press release July 31 saying the offer of employment had been withdrawn.

The decision to withdraw had been made through an email poll of the six councillors and mayor. Five agreed that discussions with Tyagi should end.

Human resources manager Tom Mather said he spoke with Tyagi several times and exchanged emails and they were not able to agree.

Steckley all but confirmed Tyagi’s identity when he asked Mather if he had released the names of any of the candidates to the press or public.

Mather said he had not.

Everybody in Town knew Tripp had applied for the job and that is why he did not participate in any meeting that dealt with the recruitment of a CAO.

Tyagi’s was the only name revealed in July by reporter John Robbins of Bullet News, along with the reasons for the withdrawal. “Sources say councillors were taken aback when they learned the amount of salary and benefits the candidate expected.”

Mayor Doug Martin and councillor Stephen Passero fumed over the debate to re-open negotiations with “Candidate A.”

Collard suggested the move, even though he is the sole councillor who did not participate in the interviews of the four shortlisted candidates but still participated in the July vote to hire Tyagi.

He said the negotiations were stopped “rather abruptly” and “perhaps we are undervaluing the position of CAO and what we may have to pay.”

Councillors themselves should negotiate with Tyagi even if it takes “two days” locked in a room until he “officially declares he is no longer interested,” Collard said.

“We could move a lot faster than hiring a head hunter,” he said.

Passero was livid.

“If the preferred candidate doesn’t want to come to bat, you usually offer it to the number 2. Why we’re not doing that, I don’t know,” he said.

“He’s been doing the job for a year. He lives in town. I’d like to hear why there are four votes on this council that do not want him to have the job versus why we really, really, really want to give it to somebody else.”

Councillors decided to withdraw the employment offer but changed their minds a month later because “it wasn’t going to go the way they wanted,” said Martin.

“This is the most absurd situation I have ever seen in my life,” he said.

“We’re accepting someone that some councillors haven’t even met, yet still has an opinion as to how good this individual is,” Martin said.

If council is willing to offer more money, it should advertise the new wage package and start the search again, “to be fair,” he said.

Hill said he wants “a guy in that seat hopefully by Oct. 1.”

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  1. Julie | Sep 6, 2012 | Reply

    ENOUGH!!! I like most of the citizens of Fort Erie are so sick of the self serving machinations of “the 4”. The rhetoric that they spew forth claiming they are doing what they were elected to do is ridiculous.
    The Bay Beach Project is going to happen…get over it. You spent $17,000 to find out it was a bad idea to trash it. How much did you cost us in severance pay to Ms. Salter? Now you want to throw away more money reopening negotiations for a post that should go to someone who actually lives here!!
    You should be ashamed, but then you have to take your heads out of your asses to notice.

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