Village of Morrin councillors defeated a bylaw intended to hire an additional municipal staff member during a special meeting of council Aug. 25, a meeting that ran less than eight minutes in length. The meeting was held via teleconference.
The special meeting had been set to discuss Bylaw 375, which was read after Mayor Howard Helton called the special meeting to order.
Helton first asked for a motion to allow councillors to consider all three readings of the proposed bylaw, a requirement under the Municipal Government Act the first time a bylaw is presented to council if they wish to approve the bylaw at that meeting. Helton and Coun. M’Liss Edwards and Coun, Melissa Wilton all voted in favour.
When Helton called first reading of Bylaw 375, he voted in favour of it, while Edwards and Wilton both voted against, defeating it.
They also conducted second and third reading, with the same results, Helton in favour, Edwards and Wilton opposed.
“The bylaw, then, is defeated,” said Helton.
The mayor then moved that the village consider hiring contractor Tamara Sloboda to perform the duties listed in Bylaw 375, who has provided municipal financial advice to council before.
That motion was also defeated by a 2 to 1 vote, Edwards and Wilton opposed, Helton in favour. The meeting was adjourned.
Bylaw 375 was proposed after a two-hour in-camera council meeting Aug. 17.
After that meeting council voted unanimously in favour of drafting a bylaw to establish the appointment of a designated officer with the following powers and duties: title of designated officer – municipal financial consultant, taxes/utilities receivable module reconciliation, payroll 2019 to current, Municipal Stimulus Program 2020 application and reporting, grant application Municipal Sustainability Initiative (MSI), corporate planning operations 3-year plan; and capital 5-year plan, financial reporting on a monthly basis, review audited financial statement – 2019 including management letter and position unsupervised by CAO with designated officer reporting directly to council.
Mayor Helton stated in an email Aug. 26 the bylaw’s purpose was intended to “provide the municipality with administrative coverage to ensure continuity in business to serve the municipality in the absence of the CAO.”
When asked what’s next now that the bylaw was defeated, the mayor stated it would be best to ask Wilton and Edwards that question.
The ECA Review attempted to get ahold of Wilton through a phone number on the village website and a Facebook message on Aug. 26 with no response, and a voicemail message was left for her Aug. 27. No response was received by deadline.
Coun. M’Liss Edwards, when asked by a resident of Morrin on a Morrin social media chat page Aug. 25 why the bylaw was proposed, discussed, set for discussion then defeated, stated, “we didn’t approve it because we have not approved the audit which needs to be done. And the bylaw would have encroached on the CAO’s job far too much. And cost the village far too much when we have infrastructure needs.”
Stu Salkeld, Local Journalism Initiative reporter