Law bans Sooke from releasing details on CAO’s departure

Teresa Sullivan left district on Feb. 14

Sooke taxpayers will probably never know how much severance pay – if any – former chief administrative officer Teresa Sullivan received from the District of Sooke when she left her job on Feb. 14.

Mayor Maja Tait announced Sullivan’s departure before Monday’s council meeting. She released no further details.

Provincially-mandated privacy rules preclude public bodies from commenting on personnel matters.

“It’s awkward because I know taxpayers need to know where their money is going, but privacy legislation steps in and leaves me unable to say anything,” said Tait, who wouldn’t confirm whether Sullivan was sacked or resigned.

RELATED: Sooke CAO no longer with district

Sullivan was appointed chief administrative officer in December 2015 and made a $140,000-a-year salary. She was Sooke’s sixth chief administrative officer since municipal incorporation in 1999.

The district has no severance policy that governs senior managers, but are required to compensate union-exempt staff according to common law, said corporate officer Carolyn Mushata in an email response to queries.

Tait doesn’t expect council to hire a new CAO until early next year due to this fall’s municipal election. Finance director Brent Blackhall was named interim CAO.

“It wouldn’t be fair for this council to hire someone and then hand it off to the next council,” she said.

“The responsibility should lie with the next council, in terms of what its strategic priorities will be and its mandate and who they feel is the best fit to do that.”

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