Former Brampton CAO Harry Schlange got the news in mid-December that that city’s new council no longer required his services.
About a month later, Norfolk’s new council received word that former county CAO David Cribbs had resigned.
When news of Cribbs’s resignation got back to Schlange, he contacted Norfolk to say he was available on a temporary basis should the county need an experienced administrator.
“I was looking for an interim role,” Schlange said during a break in the April 9 meeting of Norfolk council. “I approached the mayor to see if there was an opportunity to work with Norfolk on an interim basis. It was a mutual interaction.”
The new Norfolk council is operating from the perspective that the county’s finances are precarious and cost-savings are a necessity.
The county was saving “gapping dollars” on the former CAO’s $199,000 salary when senior staff mentioned that county business was suffering in the absence of a top administrator. Council agreed and decided to hire Schlange on an interim basis at its March 26 meeting.
“Mr. Schlange reached out to us,” Mayor Kristal Chopp said. “It was through a consultation with a staff member that we learned he may be a good candidate and after that we connected.”
Schlange met with Norfolk council behind closed doors on March 26. Once they finished speaking to him, councillors passed a motion to hire a CAO on an interim basis. His hiring was made public in a news release on April 4.
“Schlange is just the kind of authentic leader we need to help deliver change and modernize the corporation,” Chopp said in the release.
“He understands how communities like ours need to differentiate themselves and eliminate any and all barriers to progress. That’s what makes him the right leader for this community.”
Schlange said Norfolk is attractive because it is a single-tier municipality. Not only will he have a hand in the delivery of hard services such as roads, water and sewers, but he will also contribute in the areas of health, social services and policing.
He also likes Norfolk’s agricultural focus. He grew up in Niagara Region and worked in the fields and orchards there when he was younger.
Schlange maintains a home in Niagara Region but has found lodgings in Norfolk so he can be close to his new responsibilities.
He would not go into detail about the duration of his interim appointment. He did say that — under these circumstances — a year is standard for an interim contract. He added that interim appointments are subject to change on short notice.
Now that he has arrived at Governor Simcoe Square, Schlange said his immediate objective is to listen to the priorities of Norfolk council members and get to know as many of Norfolk’s 1,100 employees as he possibly can.
Schlange was CAO in Niagara Region from 2013 to 2016. That was the year he accepted the CAO position in Brampton, which is a member municipality in Peel Region.