Perth council defeats Attendance Policy By-Law

Councillor Jim Graff
Councillor Jim Graff. Photo credit: Sally Smith.
Posted on: August 30, 2018

Sally Smith

It was Perth council’s turn to say aye or nay to a Council Attendance Policy By-Law; it ended as a defeated vote.

The proposal originally came to council August 7 for consideration; it’s purpose was to establish an “attendance policy regarding Council members’ attendance on all Committees and Boards.”

At the moment there are 19 advisory panels, committees and boards to which council members can be appointed during their term on council. Council “is charged with providing ultimate oversight over the activities and affairs of the municipality, making key decisions, setting local government policy, adopting corporate plans, approving and adopting the budget and making local laws.”

The By-Law returned to council Tuesday.

Councillor Jim Boldt did not support it. “I fail to see the benefit, and why it was brought forward at the eleventh hour on the last year of this council. I believe it ignores the integrity of councillors and those that are going to be called forward.

“It does not address the real reason for making the report. If we’re going to be giving reports, if there’s going to be accountability for meetings we’re at we should be giving more of what we discussed at the meetings and bringing council up to snuff on what we discussed at the meetings.

“Rather than just saying ‘I attended all my meetings’ there’s got to be more communication. I believe this By-Law (and the wording) should be up to the next council.”

Councillor Graff did not support the By-Law either. “I do agree if we are attending just for the sake of attending and there’s information we’re learning — it should be brought back to council.”

Councillor Turner agreed with Boldt and Graff saying it would “make work for people already over-tasked, and doesn’t really accomplish anything. Maybe it was short-sighted and could be better crafted but right now it seems like a truancy factor we’re trying to keep track of that nobody seems interested in keeping track of. Laying it at the feet of an already overworked staff doesn’t seem fair.”

Councillor Brown commented this [policy] has been “in place with minor modifications for a number of years” and she didn’t see the problem with having something like this in place so that the new council “could start out knowing what the expectations are.”

Deputy Mayor Gemmell also supported the By-Law reading from it to support his decision. It says: “Council members have a legal and ethical responsibility to be involved in overseeing the organization that their Council oversees. The attendance of Council members and their participation is vital to the success of Council and its actions.”

Councillor Brown and Deputy Mayor Gemmell voted in favour, while Councillors Turner, Graff and Boldt voted against. Mayor Fenik and Councillor McPherson were absent.