Less than two and a half years into his tenure, Rocky View County’s (RVC) Chief Administrative Officer is stepping down from the position.
Al Hoggan announced his resignation as RVC’s top administrative employee on April 1, according to Reeve Daniel Henn. The CAO provided three months' notice, though a press release from the County on April 9 indicated Hoggan would be leaving his post early.
“He sent his resignation to me and I let council know on Thursday morning around 10 a.m.,” Henn said, adding he was surprised and saddened to see Hoggan resign.
“Mr. Hoggan did an outstanding job for Rocky View County for the last three years and I’m extremely disappointed to see him leave.”
The CAO did not supply a reason for his resignation, according to Henn, who added Hoggan has accepted a position with the Municipal District of Bonnyville. The Reeve of the M.D. of Bonnyville, Greg Sawchuk, confirmed April 8 that Hoggan was hired by the M.D. after being selected through the municipality's approval process.
RVC issued a statement about Hoggan's departure on April 9.
“In Al Hoggan’s time with us, he helped administration and council focus on making the right decisions, instead of concentrating on forms and processes,” the release stated. “He was very open to meeting with stakeholders to find solutions to new and longstanding issues. His strong leadership helped move us forward at a time when so many other municipalities are facing challenges. Rocky View County will continue to benefit from his leadership through the programs and approaches he put in place. We wish him and his family every success in their future endeavours.”
According to Henn, Council will appoint an interim CAO at their April 13 meeting. An interim appointment will allow councillors time to discuss how they want to move forward with the role.
“Over the next few weeks, we have some important decisions to make,” he said in the County's release. “This is the sole employee of council, and we could decide to begin recruiting immediately for this key position. But with a municipal election happening in October, it may be better to wait and allow a new council to choose a successor that they feel comfortable with.
“There is no right answer, and I’m sure there are other options. My Council colleagues and I will be carefully considering the next steps.”
RVC council hired Hogan to the CAO role in December 2018, after he served five years as manager for the municipality of Kneehill County near Drumheller.
His hiring indirectly kicked off more than two years of controversy on council. He was appointed as CAO following a 5-4 vote among councillors at their Dec. 11, 2018 meeting. Debate arose at that meeting, as Hoggan’s appointment had been announced before council’s consideration in a press release dated Oct. 17, 2018 – nearly two months earlier. This was despite the Municipal Government Act stipulating a person may only be appointed to the position of CAO if the majority of council votes to do so.
“Somehow, we failed to follow this process with our search to fill the permanent CAO’s position,” Coun. Kevin Hanson said during that meeting.
That eventually led to three councillors – Hanson, Samanntha Wright and Crystal Kissel – penning a letter to the editor of the Rocky View Weekly that claimed the County’s hiring process for the CAO was flawed. The three councillors were later handed sanctions in June 2019 for sharing confidential information with the public and violating council’s Code of Conduct bylaw. The sanctions removed the trio from RVC boards and committees, reduced their pay by 30 per cent and restricted them from representing or travelling on behalf of RVC outside the county.
The issue of the sanctions ultimately resulted in a legal battle between the three councillors and RVC, and the sanctions were eventually set aside by a Court of Queen’s Bench ruling in July 2020. However, the three councillors recently sued the County over back pay – a lawsuit that is still in its early stages.