St. Marys Journal Argus
The transformation at the top of the administration of the Town of St. Marys continued earlier this week, when news was sent out to municipal employees on Tuesday, March 10 that Director of Finance David Jansseune.
As of Tuesday afternoon, no official word from Town Hall had been posted on the www.townofstmarys.com website, or sent out to media outlets. But when contacted by the Journal Argus after word arrived from an unnamed source, Mayor Al Strathdee confirmed “Mr. Jansseune is no longer employed by the Town of St Marys.”
Later that day, at the beginning of a public meeting of Town Council for discussing the municipality's proposed 2015 budget, Strathdee made the same proclamation in public for the first time — that Jansseune had left the employ of the Town.
Strathdee did not provide a reason for the Director of Finance’s departure in either case, explaining to the Journal Argus that “we do not comment on personnel matters.” There was no indication Jansseune’s departure is connected in any way to the resignation two weeks ago by his immediate superior — and the top administrator at the Town — former CAO Kevin McLlwain.
McLlwain has been replaced on an interim basis by former top administrator Bruce Grant, a local resident who remains under the employ of a Goderich engineering firm after beginning work there following his retirement from the Town of St. Marys in 2008. Speaking with the Journal Argus earlier this week, Grant explained that he has previous experience filling in on an interim basis in municipal government roles; on more than one occasion since going to work for the engineering firm, he has accepted requests to take over for short terms at the Municipality of Bluewater.
Jansseune was hired just shy of two years ago, during the time McLlwain was CAO, after being recommended by the then chair of the Finance subcommittee and with the input of all members of Council and the senior management team. He had previously been employed as a financial controller with the Kellogg company in London.
“The budget process will move forward as quickly as possible,” Strathdee said of the effects of losing a director of finance in the midst of deliberations about the Town’s proposed 2015 budget. “Council will be meeting to discuss our plan going forward.”
The mayor added that a scheduled, budget-related public meeting, which had already been organized for Tuesday evening at the Municipal Operations Centre, would go ahead as planned. And that's exactly what happened later that evening — in most cases without any indication that the man originally overseeing the budget-crafting process was no longer at the helm.
In general, the heads of each Town of St. Marys department was in attendance at Tuesday's meeting to speak to the financial needs of the Town. Several of them made reference to earlier discussions with "Dave" that led to certain line items in the propose budget. But in general, they appeared well-versed in the spending needs within their own departments.
The only decidedly uncomfortable moment came when a graph showing the needs of the Financial Services department was projected on the screen. When Strathdee asked if anyone on staff was prepared to address the department's needs, Grant turned to Deputy Clerk Lorraine Heinbuch, then back to Strathdee, and responded: "I'm sorry. Neither of us is prepared to address that tonight."