Councillor remuneration bylaw passes third reading

Written by ECA Review

During council’s regular meeting held on Tues. Oct. 26, councillor remuneration was brought to the table once again for third and final reading under the eyes of the new council recently elected.

The conversation has been going since March but the main reason this bylaw was originally brought forward for review was to ensure that it aligns and is updated to reflect the same wording and information.

At the March 22, 2021, council meeting, council had directed the administration to inquire into a more comprehensive Council Remuneration Bylaw and Policy.

One change is the increase in councillor per diem in that the proposed change included an increase to $850 from $650 for the mayor and $500 to $650 for councillors noting the per diem amount should be increased due to the increased level of committees each councillor will be apart of now that they have only five councillors on council versus the original seven.

Mileage remains at 50/km as well as meal subsidy rates for half days (four hours or less) and full days (four hours or more) were set at $100 and $200 respectively which the former council felt should remain.

When looked over at the latest meeting, discussion revolved around stipulations attached to this section.

It currently reads that councillors do not get paid to attend meetings ‘within town borders’.

“Meeting in town is not to be covered under expenses and will only be expendable if the individual is out of town, on-town-related matter, or business.”

With the increased usage in video conferencing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some councillors felt they should be paid fairly for their time that is being taken away from their day-job even though they remain inside town borders at the times of these committee meetings.

They also save on mileage by attending meetings virtually.

“It’s been like that longer than I have been on council,” said Checkel.

Dep. Mayor Alderdice replied, “I signed up too but I still have to pay my bills at the end of the month. This doesn’t pay my bills.”

Mayor Checkel said, “Are you here just to make every bit of money you can or are you here to…? That’s what I’m hearing. So where will we get this extra money from?”

Alderdice and councillor Mark Stannard stated, “The same place we always have.”

Checkel added that “Nobody campaigned to raise taxes to take in Zoom meetings. I would like to get paid for everything too but where does it come from?”

Alderdice said, “I’m asking to get paid if I have to take time out of my job otherwise I don’t ask to be paid any extra. Otherwise I won’t be able to go. I’m sorry.”

Checkel added that some committees that were originally held in the day have switched to evenings which has worked better for councillors to attend but Alderdice pointed out that some committees refuse to change the time which Checkel stated they won’t be getting as much representation then.

“Then again that comes down to us not doing our job representing our citizens on these committees,” said Stannard. “I get where you’re coming from, Ron, I do. But if we will have to lose wages from work to attend… We have to do our job to represent the citizens of our community.”

He and Alderdice repeated they don’t charge for many evenings.

Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Quinton Flint recommended the option that they either eliminate the full day and half day and go to an hourly rate like other communities that pay at approximately $20-25 per hour which ‘keeps the cost down but is still a fair compensation.’

He added that administration would need more time to nail down comparisons but agreed that every community does everything differently.

A motion was called to remove ‘from town limits’ to allow the ability for councillors to be paid for meetings attended via video conferencing during the day.

Three councillors were in favour with Mayor Checkel opposed.

The new remuneration is set Nov. 1, 2021.

Organizational meeting

Four out of five newly elected officials were sworn in during the annual organizational meeting of Coronation council.

Incumbents Ron Checkel, Brett Alderdice, Mark Stannard and newcomer Dylan Bullick were sworn into councillor duties for the next four years.

Additional newcomer Matthew Peacock was unable to attend the meeting so he will be sworn in at a different time.

After calls for mayor and deputy, Ron Checkel was accepted as mayor and Brett Alderdice is now deputy mayor.

Meeting dates of council remain at the second and fourth Monday of the month beginning at 7 p.m.

Three dates were changed to the meeting schedule including December’s meetings being changed from Dec. 13 and Dec. 27 to Dec. 6 and Dec. 20 which council agreed to.

RCMP delegation

Detachment Commander John Pike attended Coronation council to give the third quarterly report of 2021 that covers July 1 to September 30.

Sgt. Pike encouraged the public and council to reach out on any concerns or reportings they wished to share.

The detachment has a total of five positions, three of which are filled with two soft vacancies.

One person will be gone for about two years so they are arranging for a new recruit to be joining at the beginning of December.

Priorities members focused on this quarter and throughout the year have been on reducing property thefts and increasing safe roads.

From July to Sept. 30, there were 1187 calls, almost double the amount of calls made in all of 2020 (686).

Pike attributed this to better reporting by members and a better partnership with oilfield companies.

Out of 210 traffic related offences, 131 were for speeding. 93 per cent of these resulted in written warnings or fines.

“A lot of people seem to hit the open road and there is nothing to look at so they drive a little faster,” said Pike.

He noted there hasn’t been as many complaints regarding Norfolk Avenue in the school zone since speed bumps were put in place.

As for property thefts, there is still a hot spot of copper thefts in the Fleet area.

Police try to link it back to somebody by going through garbage and casings but describe this as challenging.

“A lot of people know who’s doing it. It’s just trying to prove in court without a reasonable doubt they did it,” he said.

No updates were given on the new detachment building but Sgt. Pike shared that he has recently pitched a business case to the province to have more housing for members to increase police presence in Coronation and Castor and that he hopes to increase the number of members in the detachment with 24 hour policing instead of being on-call.

Outgoing council appreciation

The latest meeting marked the end of an era with two members of town council.

“The participation, dedication and sacrifices made over the years to ensure our community continued to move forward is an exemplary show of volunteerism and civic duty,’ stated CAO Flint’s report.

As a token of appreciation, the town wished to show this by giving Vicky Horkoff, Shelley Cook, Jackie Brigley and posthumously Keith Griffiths certificates for their ‘tireless efforts to make Coronation a more desirable place to live and play.’

“The passion and positive impacts each has provided over the years to our community have been felt and seen.”

Council agreed to send out certificates and some town memorabilia on hand for each councillor and have Griffiths’ name added to the memorial plaque located in council chambers posthumously.

 

Terri Huxley

ECA Review

About the author

ECA Review

The East Central Alberta Review (ECA Review), formerly known as the Coronation Review, is a newspaper that services 28,000+ homes each week.