Local Journalism Initiative
The remuneration policy returned for discussion at the standing committee meeting on July 21 and some minor changes were added.
The amended policy will come back to a regular council meeting for decision, with the additions stating that the mayor can attend the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) conference yearly, while all councillors may attend once during their term.
The language used prior, allowed for more councilors to attend in years when the conference was held closer and it wouldn’t use up as many travel dollars, explained Heather Waye, strategic services manager.
Funding for FCM attendance is separate from council’s professional development funding, clarified Carla Fox, corporate services director.
Coun. Albert Ostashek added that the option for other council members to go was based on the amount budgeted that year and the full utilization of that, without touching the professional development funds.
“I think it’s fair and equitable and sensible that the mayor goes every year and each councilor has one opportunity within their term at their discretion to choose which year makes the most sense,” said Dewly Nelson.
Mayor Marcel Michaels brought up that having councilors attend FCM within their first three years gives them an opportunity to learn and exercise what they learned.
Some current councilors delayed going to FCM in their first two years due to strong participation and this year FCM was cancelled, Nelson pointed out.
Any councilor that is fully intending to run again can make the decision whether to expend those funds prior to an election, he added.
“I think it’s best to give each individual councilor the freedom to decide when is appropriate for them to go, because further to that, having experienced this myself as well, work commitments also play into things as well and I don’t want to put that onto a councilor,” said Coun. Ryan Maguhn.
Council then changed a previous decision that administration complete all Council timesheets to instead continue with council completing timesheets as per current practice.
Exception reporting was introduced in previous meetings and is the practice of submitting a remuneration adjustment request based on differing activities from those that would be considered the norm such as committee meetings, while administration tracks all regular meetings.
This practice is currently used among Town of Hinton Salaried staff.
“It would be simpler for me just to keep with the current reporting system that we have where we report all the meetings that we attend during the month as part of the remuneration form,” said Ostashek.
He added that if they must report some meetings, they may as well report all meetings.
Maguhn pointed out that this may put administration in a difficult position if councilors record different meeting times or don’t claim certain meetings for potential political reasons.
“If a councilor chooses to not claim for a particular meeting they attended, they’re not really acting in good faith in their role as an elected municipal official. And if they’re claiming for time that’s beyond what should be allotted for the times of the meeting, the meeting minutes have a start and end time of every meeting,” Ostashek said.
Previous additions, revisions, and clarifications included clarification regarding the definition of meetings, that consecutive meetings be deemed a single meeting in relation to meeting fees, that basic reporting be required for Council Approved Committee & Board meetings, that reports be included in the Council Agenda package on a monthly basis, and that items that constitute conference participation be tracked and reported separately from regular remuneration.
The definition of workshops was clarified within the policy upon committee’s request, to distinguish between self-directed workshops paid via honorarium or the Professional Development Account, and those which are led by administration or directed by council where additional meeting fees apply.
This policy comes back to council in the spring of 2021 for additional review and changes will be assessed at that time, clarified CAO Emily Olsen.