Financial revelation

Questions regarding financial disbursement reporting practices resulted in a surprising revelation at Morrin’s July 18 regular council meeting.

While reviewing the monthly financial disbursement report, Mayor Howard Helton pointed to a change in the report’s structure.

“I just had a question,” Helton began. “Just after the new year, we quit breaking out the RRSP. Is that still $400?”

Answering in the affirmative, CAO Annette Plachner simply said “Yup.”

“Could I ask, that for clarity, we break it out again?” requested Helton.

Plachner responded, “Yeah we can, but I have to do a separate run on those because if I get paid one thing and two things, my computer lumps it together on one cheque. SoI have to do one separate run and another separate run to break it out. I’ll do that.”

Resuming the discussion Mayor Helten then explained, “That then breaks down at a glance, what we’re keeping as our record at an ongoing basis. If we’re considering that $400twice a month, each pay period…”

Interjecting, the CAO said, “Well it’s $500 you know.”

“Oh, so now it’s five?” The mayor asked.

Plachner simply said, “Yup.”

Helton then asked when that happened.

By way of explanation, CAO Plachner said, “The way it’s set up,by contract and a bylaw, that it goes up every so often, so much.”

“Oh I see,” said the mayor.

“That was established in a bylaw at some time?”

“Uh-huh,” answered the CAO.

Mayor Helton then asked, “How does that read?”

“Well, it’s a bylaw for the CAO, and it’s got like an increase every so many years.” Plachner answered.

Helton then asked if the council could get a copy to the bylaw.

Plachner said, “Yup.”

Continuing the discussion, Mayor Helton asked when the increase came into effect. According to the CAO, the change began in January.

“So the first pay period of January, up to five for each pay period?” Helton asked for clarity.

The CAO said, “Yup.”

With no further clarification requested from the rest of Morrin’s council, Mayor Helton asked for acceptance of the financial disbursement report.

Resident John Siemens who had attended the regular council meeting emailed CAO a request for information the day following the meeting asking for a copy of the bylaw regarding the RRSP.

A response back by email from the CAO stated, “John: It’s not a By-Law, its an RRSP schedule set up when Council started the RRSPs many years ago. I’ll have to go back and find it, but am very busy at this time for Municipal Affairs.”

Bylaws and policies

Bylaw 361, a bylaw to establish the councillors’ code of conduct and ethics, unanimously passed all three readings with no further debate, meeting the deadline established by Municipal Affairs.

After a short discussion of a Municipal Affairs guide, council also moved to proceed with the development of a separate code of conduct and ethics for municipal employees.

Council went on to discuss Morrin’s public participation policy.

Following the format laid out by Municipal Affairs, this policy clarifies the understanding that ratepayers and the public have the opportunity to have input and accessibility to council in various forms, including the ability to request public meetings.

Council agreed with Mayor Helton’s assessment that under this policy, the public will be made aware that there is a process to accessibility and they are welcome in engagement with their local government.

The resolution to accept the public participation policy passed unanimously.

Proposed amendments to Bylaw 227, the Abatement of a Nuisance to regulate Untidy and Unsightly Premises, which were discussed at the June 20 regular meeting, were brought back to the table for further review.

Council agreed that a new policy designed to protect the trees within the village should be created, separate from Bylaw 227.


Linda Stillinger

ECA Review

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