July 30, 2014

Daytime council meetings discussed

As published in The Erin Advocate

Concern over putting restrictions on new council members has resulted in deferral of a proposal to have one council meeting each month scheduled during the day.

The change recommended by Clerk Dina Lundy would allow staff to be called into a meeting during their regular work hours, only for the time needed to deal with their department’s issues. Currently they are paid extra to be at night meetings, with much of the time spent waiting.

“Incorporating daytime meetings will save considerable resources,” said Lundy, noting that the Townships of Puslinch, Mapleton and Minto hold one day meeting per month.

Councillor Barb Tocher said having one night and one day meeting per month would limit the number of people whose work commitments would make it possible for them to run for council. She said it could exclude some residents from attending some meetings, but conceded it could be better for people who work at night.

Staff costs for a regular council meeting can be about $1,300. Tocher said there may be other ways to reduce costs.

“Staff could get time off in lieu instead of extra pay,” she said.

Council decided to get a further staff report on the pros and cons of the plan. The new council to be elected in October will have authority to choose its own meeting schedule.