COUN. Rod Clark of the City of North Vancouver is harshly criticizing Mayor Darrell Mussatto for his handling of the city manager's performance reviews.
"I've been trying for three years to get a performance review and set annual goals for the city manager," Clark said in council Monday. "A far-too-cozy relationship has developed between the city manager and the mayor. The performance review and goal-setting for the city manager is the mayor's job."
Clark called for the city to "develop policy on a timely performance review of the city manager and annual goal-setting for this position," a motion that won unanimous support. His motion follows more than a year of verbal requests in council for an update on the review policy.
Ken Tollstam has been the city's top administrator since 1993, after holding a series of other senior posts at city hall. His $254,000 annual salary is the highest of any municipal bureaucrat on the North Shore. His most recent performance review was in 2006. Other senior staff positions at the city are reviewed annually.
Clark said Tollstam himself should have sought out another review of his performance at some point over the past five years. "There has been an almost total failure of accountability for our city manager's position," Clark said.
After the meeting, Clark struck an even more combative tone. "I think it borders on negligence that council hasn't done this and I lay this right at the feet of Darrell Mussatto," Clark said. "He's been the mayor since 2005. In 2006 there was the one cursory goal-setting and review of the city manager and nothing since.
"When I initiated the calls for the review, I was assured by Darrell Mussatto that we would get a report back from him about what Ken's intentions are with respect to retirement and how we would go about a 360 review of the city manager's position. And then nothing, absolutely nothing."
Clark wouldn't say if he had any specific complaints with Tollstam's performance.
Mussatto did not comment on the motion during the council meeting, but in an interview afterwards he said Clark's timing caught him by surprise.
"We had a discussion in camera last week and I felt council heard the answers they wanted to hear, so this just came right out of the blue for me," he said.
"Council agreed last week to do a review of Mr. Tollstam and Mr. Tollstam is going to come back with options, and how other municipalities do it. We agreed on that. So it's not like anyone's trying to hide anything. We'll have a company or a process that we can look at to evaluate Mr. Tollstam."
Mussatto said he expects to see options to consider within two to three weeks, and a new council will make the final decision following the Nov. 19 elections.
Mussatto also said he thought Clark had "a good point."
"We never had a policy with (former mayors) Jack Loucks and Barbara Sharpe. Does that mean it's OK for me not to have a policy? No. I have to take as much responsibility as the rest of council in this getting to five years," he said.
Tollstam said he had no problem with a performance review. Following the consultantled review of his work in 2006, he said, the council of the day dropped the process.
"It was taking up a lot of time and effort for them - these are their comments, not mine - and they didn't feel they were getting bang for their buck," he said. "They thought the better method was to work with the mayor dayin, day-out. We always have meetings every month, just the CAO and council to talk about issues. . . . Council picks out the options they want us to focus in on, whether it's more affordable housing, something in the cultural area, pools, rinks, whatever. My mission is to make it happen."