MUSKOKA – Three longtime senior managers are saying goodbye to the District of Muskoka.
Chief administrative officer Jim Green, district solicitor David Royston and commissioner of finance and corporate services Stephen Cairns are cashing in their retirement chips over the next few months and vacating three key staff positions.
“I wasn’t surprised, I was disappointed,” said district chair John Klinck. “You have this hope that your senior managers, who you almost take for granted, will be around forever. But the reality is, they are not.”
Klinck said district council, which includes representatives from each of Muskoka’s six area municipalities, was told by human resources staff at the beginning of its term that Green, Royston and Cairns, among other staff, were in a position to retire.
“We had our human resources director do an update on succession planning. At that time, Jim Green’s numbers already added up. In other words, he could have retired, I think, three years ago,” said Klinck. “So, we knew Jim was in a position to retire, as well as David and Stephen.”
Royston will retire in May and Cairns will do the same in mid-June. Green will retire at the end of July.
Royston has been with the district for 30 years, while Cairns has been with the district for nearly nine. Green, who has been CAO for the last 12 years and was previously commissioner of planning and economic development, started with the district 23 years ago.
“We’re going to miss all three of them, obviously. They’re walking file drawers,” said Klinck with a chuckle. “I go to Jim on a regular basis and he has the answer, same with Stephen and David. Those are the folks who have the history of the organization.”
He said he could not speak to the personal motives that led each of the three soon-to-be retirees to leave within a three-month span.
“When you lose those folks, you lose some continuity,” said Klinck. “But, certainly, you can’t stand in their way. There comes a time when different things are important in their lives.”
But he said Green had given clear warning that he would leave during this council term. And the timing of Green’s retirement made sense because it did not leave a new council searching for another CAO right off the bat, he said.
Klinck said the district has already hired a replacement for Royston and will continue to look both internally and externally for the next commissioner of finance and corporate services as well as the next chief administrative officer.
“You can’t replace someone who has been there for so many years right off the bat, but there are a lot of exceptionally talented people around,” he said. “We’re convinced we’ll find the appropriate candidates.”
He noted that other district employees are in a position to retire as well.
“We’re reaching that baby boomer stage of life where there are going to be quite a number of people who play key roles throughout the organization that are going to be calling it quits,” said Klinck. “It appears to me it’s a stage we’re entering and it’s not just the senior management team.”