By Trevor Busch
Through a new signing policy, CAO Cory Armfelt is delegating authority to departmental directors to ease the administrative burden currently vested in his position.
Signing Authorization of Municipal Documents Policy and Procedure ADM-10 gives authority and provides clarifications to staff as to who has the authority to sign which municipal documents.
“I’ve been wanting to have this policy and procedure in place since I became CAO a little over two years ago now. There’s a lot of things that come to my desk for signing that I feel could be delegated down to the director level because they’re part of normal business practices and they’ve been approved through the budget,” said Armfelt at town council’s Nov. 25 meeting. “So ultimately that’s the intent of this policy and procedure, is to remove some of those obligations from things that come to my desk.”
Section 213 of the Municipal Government Act (MGA) stipulates the manner in which municipal documents must be signed or authorized. In general, municipal documents are to be signed by the Chief Elected Official (Mayor Andrew Prokop) and a designated officer. The MGA also provides some flexibility for council, the CAO, and a designated officer to delegate signing authority to other employees to allow a more efficient and business-like approach to the signing of municipal documents.
Coun. Garth Bekkering wanted to ensure the policy has proper checks and balances, and will not be open to abuse.
“I’m not opposed to this at all. But what safety — I don’t know what you put in place, in case something does go awry, that you’re aware of it? If a director would sign documents erroneously, would you be aware of that down the road? Would there be a check and balance, for example?”
“It’s hard to answer that. These are things that are in process, and that are in progress,” replied Armfelt, providing a few examples of the types of purchases that would be common. ”The directors will always have the option to not sign it. I guess that’s probably the best answer that I can give if there’s any question. I would certainly encourage them to err on the side of caution, and send it my way for a conversation prior to endorsement. But the real intent here is just for the day-to-day sort of purchases, and the directors, I don’t micro-manage. The directors have to be accountable for their actions, and we have regular meetings in that regard. There is some risk, I suppose, that a director could go ‘rogue’ and all the sudden buy a bunch of widgets that we don’t need, but then the accountability factor kicks in at that point. Really, this is about efficiency, and for the directors to be more efficient and to be more receptive to our clients.”
Administration believes the policy clarifies “internal communication, and who has authority with relative municipal documents.”
Prior to council passing Signing Authorization of Municipal Documents Policy and Procedure ADM-10 unanimously at the Nov. 25 meeting, the Town of Taber did not have a policy outlining who has signing authority for which documents.