How does an Interim get to be an Acting - and what is the difference?

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

February 16th, 2019



Earlier in the year, after dismissing the City Manager, Council hired Tim Commisso to serve as an Interim city Manager for what was described as a six month contract, while City Council figured out what it wanted in the way of a new City Manager.

Commisso alone

Tim Commisso – Interim or Acting?

Commisso had been employed by the city of Burlington for a number of years and left holding the title of General Manager.

Our sources tell us that he was a “stand up kind of guy”. A straight shooter who was liked, respected and appreciated. Commisso left Burlington to return to Thunder Bay, the city he was raised in, to serve as City Manager and retired from that job.

He seemed like a good fit for Burlington’s short term needs.

What is confusing is the way Commisso is described in a document that will go to the Budget Committee next week. That document has him as the “Acting” City Manager.


Commiso title

What is the difference between an Acting and an Interim? And why the change now? And who made or approved he change?

Just asking!

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4 comments to How does an Interim get to be an Acting – and what is the difference?

  • Jim Young

    I suspect a typo or a simple mis-statement.
    I havd no opinion for or against Mr.Commisso but surely an “Interim Manager” is the defacto “Acting Manager”.
    Let’s not read too much into semantics or slips of the pen.

  • Stephen White

    Interim appointments typically refer to someone who is brought in from outside the organization to fill a role for which there is no suitable internal candidate. The underlying expectation is that he/she will continue in the role until such time as a permanent replacement is found…and that isn’t the interim appointee. The interim appointee will help during the transition period until the new appointee “gets up to speed”. An acting appointment is typically an internal appointee from within an organization who is filling the role temporarily until such time as a permanent replacement is found…and it could, very well, be the same acting appointee.

    Let’s hope that the confusion in terminology is simply an honest mistake and not a deliberate attempt to slip one past an unsuspecting public. If there’s one thing the folks at City Hall should have realized before, during and after the last election is that residents are watching them like a hawk. There are far too many smart, vigilant people in this community, and there is no appetite for conducting civic business with the same callous disregard for ethics and optics that was exhibited previously.

  • Penny Hersh

    Perhaps the decision has been made that Mr. Commisso will become the City Manager.

  • Jan Mowbray

    I, too, wondered about this question. Here’s what I learned from a quick Google search: “acting means that you are temporarily filling in for the regular person while they are on leave, whereas interim means you are temporarily filling the position until a search is completed to fill it on a permanent basis”. So, clearly the man’s status has changed.

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