Town governed ‘improperly and irregularly’: 37 recommendations need attention

Written by Submitted

A ‘Municipal Inspections Report’ was presented to Coronation Town Council, administration, staff and the public on July 16, 2013 at the Lions Rec Center, which revealed the town had been governed in an improper and irregular manner. Improper because of councillor conduct and irregular because of contraventions to the Municipal Governance Act.
On April 11, 2012 council made a motion, at the request of Mayor Elliott, to request the Minister of Alberta Municipal Affairs, Doug Griffiths, to review how council was doing its job.
At the time this report was requested working relationships between councillors and administration had become strained.
“Inappropriate behaviour, requesting recorded votes, taking sides on decisions and personal vendettas” were just some of the reasons why this review was conducted.
The Alberta Government put out a tender for the work and Harold Johnsrude of Harold Johnsrude Consulting Inc. received the tender to conduct the municipal inspection report.
Johnsrude extensively interviewed council members, the mayor, staff and the CAO to complete his report. He also had complete access to the town’s records.
In Johnsrude’s report he made 37 recommendations. Minister Griffiths reviewed Johnsrude’s recommendations and wrote several directives, which were presented to council and all those in attendance at the Lions Rec Centre on July 16.
The Minister’s first immediate directive was for council to direct administration to publish the Town of Coronation’s inspection report on the town website and to provide printed copies of the report on request.
Griffiths’ second directive was to have council and administration review section 203 of the Municipal Governance Act (MGA), which delegates council powers and the duties and functions of the CAO.
In Johnsrude’s report, he said the council meeting minutes he reviewed provided strong evidence that council does not know its role. Johnsrude went on to say the lines between council and administration had been blurred and that council had “continually crossed the line into administration”. Johnsrude goes on to say that this created inefficiencies during council meetings and at the office of the CAO.
In his third directive, Griffiths told council and administration to review section 180 of the MGA, which outlines the process used to assign councillor responsibility. Griffiths made this directive to ensure all actions made by council are appropriately authorized by resolution to ensure councillors are not acting on matters that are the responsibility of administration.
In Griffiths’ fourth directive he told council to review section 197 of the MGA, which requires council and committee meetings to be conducted in public, subject to specific exemptions.
Griffiths directed council to review their practices for in-camera meetings and to ensure that any matters discussed in future in-camera meetings meet the legislated conditions.
In Johnsrude’s report he found 43 items in 2011 and 2012 that were discussed in-camera did not meet the MGA eligibility criteria to be discussed in private.
In his fifth directive, Griffiths told council to develop and approve terms of reference for each council committee. In his sixth directive, Griffiths told the CAO, Sandra Kulyk to complete the update of the Health and Safety Policy and to make sure all managers and staff are familiar with contents of the updated policy.
Finally, Griffiths directed council to provide to him with a monthly report by the tenth day of each month until January 10, 2014 regarding the progress the town has made with respect to completing the directives.
Directives 2 – 6 need to be completed by December 31, 2013.

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