Holes found in hat sys­tem

Coun­cil­lors spar over travel bud­gets

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY LIL­LIAN SIM­MONS

Bay Roberts Coun­cil­lor Ger­ald Green­land raised the is­sue of travel bud­gets for coun­cil­lors dur­ing last week’s reg­u­lar coun­cil meet­ing. Coun. Green­land was re­fer­ring specif­i­cally to the tax­pay­ers’ money spent on at­tend­ing Fed­er­a­tion of Cana­dian Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties’ (FCM) con­ven­tions.

The na­tional con­ven­tions are held an­nu­ally all over the coun­try.

The coun­cil­lor said he was “very dis­ap­pointed it took four or five months for a rec­om­men­da­tion to come back to coun­cil” from the Fi­nance Com­mit­tee.

It ap­pears Coun­cil­lors Green­land and Bill Sey­mour had made a re­quest to at­tend the up­com­ing FCM con­fer­ence to be held in Whistler, BC, June 4-8.

Coun­cil had ear­lier de­cided that due to fi­nan­cial con­straints only two coun­cil­lors would go per year.

Just af­ter the cur­rent coun­cil was elected they de­cided to put their names in a hat as a way of choos­ing who would go. Be­cause it’s a four-year term and only seven mem­bers, it was de­cided the mayor would put his name in twice. All four years were drawn at the same time.

Coun­cil­lors Clarence Mercer and Ger­ald Green­land were cho­sen first (2006). When the time came to go, Green­land had prior com­mit­ments made and couldn’t at­tend, so Coun. Mercer at­tended alone.

This year the luck of the draw will see Mayor Glenn Lit­tle­john and Coun. Wal­ter Yet­man at­tend the BC con­ven­tion.

Last year Coun. Sey­mour and the mayor were picked to at­tend. How­ever Sey­mour was sched­uled for surgery and Deputy Mayor Melvin Walsh was cho­sen to go in his place. The deputy mayor had at­tended the con­ven­tion in 2007, the sec­ond year

of this cur­rent term, along with for­mer coun­cil­lor Den­nis Brown.

“To save the town money I told them a month in ad­vance that I wasn’t go­ing,” said Coun. Sey­mour, af­ter the meet­ing.“Melvin and Glenn got two trips out of it. If we’re not go­ing to be fair, I think we should for­get go­ing to the con­fer­ences al­to­gether.”

“I re­mem­ber bring­ing a mo­tion to coun­cil and we all agreed on a base­line. When we set down the ground rules we said we would put names in a hat. My name came out but I had prior com­mit­ments. Coun. Sey­mour, through sickness, was un­able to travel. You of­fered a re­place­ment to travel in his place,” Green­land said to the mayor.

“I’ll never ac­cept any more travel un­less I know how much it will cost and how much is left (in the bud­get),” the coun­cil­lor con­tin­ued.“I can’t look at it as a gov­ern­ment-men­tal­ity bud­get — if it’s there, spend it,” he said. “I’ve re­quested the travel bud­get, but didn’t get it. I think some peo­ple have al­ready ex­hausted their amount.”

Sey­mour said he feels he de­serves the trip.

“When we set it up, we set it up so all coun­cil­lors would have a chance to travel. Last year I couldn’t go,” said Coun. Sey­mour, “but fig­ured I would go this year. Too bad I won’t get a trip this year, it may be my last term,” he said.“I’m not up­set, but you’d like to get your turn.”

The mayor told coun­cil,“it’s only a rec­om­men­da­tion and if coun­cil feels we’ve been wronged, it’s within your right to over­turn it.”

No­body over bud­get

Lit­tle­john apol­o­gized to Green­land be­cause it had taken a while for the com­mit­tee to get back to him.

“We’re fol­low­ing the bud­get, no­body’s gone over their bud­get,” the mayor said. “If I thought there was some abuse go­ing on, I’d in­form you.”

“Can’t we get a list of the travel at the end of the year?” asked Coun. Wood.

“That’s not a prob­lem,” said the mayor.

“When we do up a bud­get for FCM it was that it would be two coun­cil­lors per term,” he said. “I know Coun. Green­land had work com­mit­ments and Coun. Sey­mour was sick. It was un­for­tu­nate that I went in Coun. Sey­mour’s place, but it was still in the bud­get.”

Green­land said he wouldn’t have been at­tend­ing any­way be­cause he couldn’t take the time off work.

“What I of­fered was: I have a bud­get this year, I of­fered to use my bud­get this year. I’m not up­set,” Coun. Green­land added. “Most of th­ese points I brought up be­fore and I in­tend to fol­low through with them. I’m sure there are coun­cil­lors here who would like to be told if they’re close to bud­get.”

“I as­sumed the town clerk would tell us,” said Coun. Mercer. “And if we have reg­u­la­tions I think it’s only fair we ad­here to them.

“I con­cur with Coun. Green­land,” said the deputy mayor. “There are times when coun­cil­lors are gone and we’re not aware of it.”

Coun­cil­lors can, how­ever, get copies of the travel pol­icy and ex­penses from the town clerk at any time. (See re­lated story for travel bud­get in­for­ma­tion)

Coun. Wal­ter Yet­man sug­gested the mat­ter be brought up again at the next meet­ing.

Coun­cil made a mo­tion to deny a re­quest for two ad­di­tional coun­cil­lors to travel to the FCM con­ven­tion.

Coun. Sey­mour voted against the mo­tion.

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