by Tristan Turner
Morinville will be renewing an annual contract with Councillor Rebecca Balanko up to a limit of $2,500 following a unanimous motion of council. The contract is for seasonal educational programing for children in Morinville, both the GIRLS (Girls in Real Life Situations) and BOYS (Boys Owning Your Situation) programs. The $2,500 figure both represents a fee paid to Balanko as well as materials for the program, and represents a limit for the contract, though the actual figure is expected to be less according to comments from Director of Corporate Operations David Schaefer.
The vote is a mandatory requirement of the Municipal Government Act (MGA) in Alberta, which states that Councillors can enter into business arrangements with the town, but that all arrangements involving councillors have to be reviewed by council and placed in the public record. Council had to pass a similar motion to approve Morinville’s advertising contract with the Morinville News, a company owned by Deputy Mayor Stephen Dafoe.
Councillor Balanko recused herself from the discussion and vote citing a pecuniary interest ahead of council’s discussion, where they unanimously approved the contract. Balanko has offered these programs in the community for the past five years before any time serving on council.
CAO Andrew Isbister responded to a question from Deputy Mayor Dafoe to explain this MGA requirement process saying: “The reason that these are brought forward is to make sure that all dealings with councillors are open and transparent to everyone… When a dealing involves a councillor the MGA wants to make sure that the dealing comes forward and is discussed by council because it is a council colleague… The MGA does not say in any way that a councillor cannot do business with the town, and in fact we believe that anybody who is in business and wants to represent the town needs to have that ability to come and sit on council an be an active member, except when they are dealing with their own business, and then they need to step aside…”