The Village of Morrin community got an introduction to their new “official administrator” (OA) at his first regular council meeting Dec. 16. The meeting was held via teleconference to meet pandemic rules.
Harold Johnsrude was appointed a few weeks ago by Minister of Municipal Affairs Tracy Allard to act as council for the village, and he introduced himself and described a bit about what his role as council will be.
“These are interesting days,” said Johnsrude after he called the council meeting to order. Johnsrude stated he regretted the fact he couldn’t meet the community in person because of the pandemic rules.
To begin with, Johnsrude noted the village’s procedural bylaw states council meetings are not allowed to be recorded, but he himself has no problem with being recorded.
He stated that all he asks is that if recordings of the council meeting are going to be used for anything other than personal use, that he be notified of such.
The OA noted he has well over two decades of experience working in municipal government in various capacities and in 2006 started his own consultancy specializing in local government.
The OA also stated that his appointment came straight from Minister Allard with the ability to act as council.
“Most of you are aware there is no quorum of council,” said Johnsrude. He was referring to the resignation of Mayor Howard Helton and Coun. Melissa Wilton this fall.
The OA noted the Minister has granted him the authority to act as council, which includes making and passing resolutions with a mandate until Dec. 17, 2021.
The OA noted that according to the orders of Minister Allard the services of remaining councillor, M’Liss Edwards, will no longer be required.
Johnsrude stated he was pleasantly surprised to visit the Morrin village office and meet the two municipal staff, Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) Annette Plachner and Public Works Foreman Dave Benci, as some of the municipal situations he’s arrived in included few or even no staff at all in some instances.
Johnsrude stated he believes in clarity and openness and will do his best to give as much background information as possible for council meeting business.
He also noted he will work with CAO Plachner to make decisions, but also noted he hopes to avoid long-ranging decisions.
The OA stated that members of the public may notice that on the agenda there will no longer be items such as disbursement of accounts or accounts payable.
He explained those items are the responsibility of the signing authority, including the CAO, and don’t need to be discussed at a council meeting.
Johnsrude also noted a member of the public had requested the entire agenda package prior to the meeting, including all memos and information.
The OA noted he was not able to grant that request but noted that the village’s website is going to be upgraded soon and such information will be available there.
Johnsrude noted he planned to offer a special question and answer session after the council meeting for the community’s benefit but no questions were forthcoming other than the ECA Review newspaper reporter clarifying , Coun. Edwards’ position that Minister Allard had relieved Edwards of her duties as a councillor.
Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative reporter