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Mayor, Hilsinger, Niro lead search for the next Horsman

Coun. Shoemaker volunteered for the CAO selection committee, but was overwhelmingly rejected
City Council has started the search for a new chief administrative officer to replace Al Horsman, whose four-year term expires Sept. 28 and, by mutual agreement with the city, won't be renewed

Sault Ste. Marie City Council voted Monday night to name Mayor Christian Provenzano, Ward 4 Councillor Rick Niro and Ward 3's Donna Hilsinger to a selection committee that will seek a replacement for Al Horsman, the city's chief administrative officer.

Horsman was himself selected after an executive search, but councillors accepted Mayor Provenzano's suggestion that the city try to find a suitable replacement without a search consultant, just a selection commitee comprised of himself and two councillors.

"I think we owe it to the community to try and save that money," Provenzano said.

"If we can't, we will start the process again and we will use the services of a professional. But obviously if that comes to pass, we'll be back here and we'll be talking about that."

Three councillors volunteered to serve on the selection committee: Niro, Hilsinger and Ward 3's Matthew Shoemaker.

Hilsinger and Niro both received nine votes each.

Ward 3 Councillor Shoemaker got just four votes.

Here's who your councillors supported:

  • Ward 1 Councillor Paul Christian voted for Shoemaker and Niro
  • Ward 1 Councillor Sandra Hollingsworth voted for Niro and Hilsinger
  • Ward 2 Councillor Luke Dufour voted for Niro and Hilsinger
  • Ward 2 Councillor Lisa Vezeau-Allen voted for Hilsinger and Niro
  • Ward 3 Councillor Donna Hilsinger voted for herself and Niro
  • Ward 3 Councillor Matthew Shoemaker voted for himself and Hilsinger
  • Ward 4 Councillor Rick Niro vored for himself and Hilsinger
  • Ward 4 Councillor Marchy Bruni voted for Niro and Shoemaker
  • Ward 5 Councillor Matthew Scott voted for Shoemaker and Hilsinger
  • Ward 5 Councillor Corey Gardi voted for Niro and Hilsinger
  • Mayor Provezano voted for Niro and Hilsinger

"It's been a pleasure working with the previous council and with yourselves," Horsman told City Council.

"I've really enjoyed working with staff. We have a tremendous team here in all of the areas. They're great people and they're really conscientous and dedicated employees," the CAO said.

"I want to thank [Horsman] for his service to date," said Mayor Provenzano. "I want to be very clear with everybody, his service to date is not over. We have every expectation that he will work for the remainder of his contract."

After the City Council meeting, Horsman told SooToday that he has nothing lined up as his next career step.

"It's standard to have four-year contracts. It's quite common," he said.

"Both parties sat and talked about it and mutally agreed. Let's just let the contract run its course and complete it in September."

As for the future, Horsman said: "I haven't got anything specific right now. It's been a very positive relationship and I've really enjoyed being here. But it's four years and it's just not uncommon to have those agreements run their course and then go in other directions."

"Right now, I'm just concentrating on helping with the transition and working with staff, and the mayor and council on transition," the CAO said.

Horsman's employment contract with the City of Sault Ste. Marie expires Sept. 28.

Parking fines

In other news, City Council approved the first increases in local parking fines in three decades.

"As they are currently now, it's less money to pay the fine than it is to pay the parking," said City Solicitor Karen Fields.

Fields said the city likely won't wait another 30-plus years before the next fine hike.

The changes include:

  • the set fine on the Sault's $10 expired-meter tickets will rise to $25
  • a $15 ticket for overnight parking in winter will now cost $50
  • parking in a signed prohibited area will be $35 (compared to $15 now)
  • parking in a fire route will cost $60 (up from $25 now)
  • illegally occupying a handicapped parking spot will set you back $350 ($300 now)
  • parking on private property - $30 (doubled from $15)
  • parking in excess of posted time limit - $35 ($10 now)

Under the bylaw changes approved Monday, a reduction of approximately one-third will be allowed when fines are voluntarily paid within seven days.

Electronic voting

Over its last two meetings, City Council has been experimenting with a new electronic voting system that records each vote cast by councillors on their Microsoft Surface tablets.

Sometimes, the new technology works.


David Helwig

About the Author: David Helwig

David Helwig's journalism career spans six decades beginning in the 1960s. His work has been recognized with national and international awards.
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