Council agrees to review its policies

Duane Hicks

For the first time in quite a few years, town council will review policies such as council remuneration, appointment of councillors to paid committees, travel policy with regards to per diems and personal car usage, and policy on attendance of council at out-of-town meetings.
“Over the last two years, there’s been a tremendous amount of questions raised in different areas by different councillors to myself,” noted Mayor Roy Avis, who brought forward the issue of policy reviews at Monday night’s regular meeting.
As an example, he said there’s been confusion over whether councillors should or shouldn’t put in claims for attending meetings elsewhere in the district, such as Emo, Sunny Cove Camp, or Couchiching FN.
Another example was the question of how the mayor appoints councillors to paid committees while a third was how personal car usage ties into the travel policy (when should a personal vehicle be used, when should mileage be claimed, etc.)
The mayor added he did not want the policies to go a specific executive committee for review, but wanted all councillors present at a meeting to go over them.
Council will review the policies next Monday (Feb. 2) at 3 p.m., just prior to the special committee of the whole meeting on the 2009 municipal budget.
This meeting is open to the public.
In other news, town council also decided Monday night to move regular committee of the whole meetings back upstairs in Council Chambers.
Mayor Roy Avis made the request for the change of venue after it became evident the committee room can become cramped when more than a few people, other than those at the committee meeting table, attend meetings there.
With the committee of the whole moving back up to Council Chambers, the committee chair (currently Coun. Sharon Tibbs) will sit in the mayor’s chair during that meeting, with the mayor taking it back once the regular council meeting begins.
Committee of the whole meetings take place prior to regular council meetings on the second and fourth Monday of the month. The in-camera portion of those meetings will continue to be held in the committee room downstairs.
Special committee of the whole meetings, like the one next Monday afternoon on the budget, will continue to be held in the committee room.
For many years, committee of the whole meetings were held in the committee room downstairs, but were moved to Council Chambers during the 2003-06 term of council, when the council of the day decided it would be more accommodating to the public.
After the 2006 election, the current council opted to move them back downstairs.
Also at Monday night’s meeting, council:
•authorized the clerk to sign an agreement, as amended, for the receipt of three public access defibrillators (one for the Civic Centre and two for the Memorial Sports Centre) from the Rainy River District Social Services Administration Board’s EMS and directed him to prepare the necessary bylaw;
•authorized the clerk and mayor to sign an agreement with the Township of La Vallee for fire chief services, and directed the clerk to prepare the necessary bylaw;
•authorized the CAO and treasurer to sign contract and delegation of authority with the NOHFC for funding of the Fort Frances Technology Centre in the amount of $439,492;
•approved the town’s cell phone use policy as recommended by the Administration and Finance executive committee;
•received a report listing town representatives’ attendance at conferences in 2009;
•approved the renewal of the joint contract for Paul Heayn as the town’s closed meeting investigator for the period of Jan. 1-Dec. 31, 2009, which includes an annual retainer fee of $500 (the joint contract is with Atikokan, Dryden, Kenora, and Thunder Bay); and
•approved a financial request from the Rainy River Valley Safety Coalition for per capita funding for 2009 in the amount of $3,782.50 (50 cents per capita).