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Motion to roll back Council pay fails

by Colin Smith

Morinville councillors will not be taking a cut in pay in response to the financial challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A motion by Councillor Stephen Dafoe that Town Council consider a 5% per cent rollback to members’ base honorariums for July 1 to December 31 was defeated 4-3 at its regular meeting Tuesday.

Councillor Lawrence Giffen and Deputy Mayor Scott Richardson voted in favour of the motion, along with Dafoe. Opposed were Councillors Rebecca Balanko, Nicole Boutestein and Sarah Hall, and Mayor Barry Turner.

In his opening statement, Councillor Stephen Dafoe said, “Council, I’m asking you to do a difficult thing. It’s one thing when you decide whether to spend something on this or something on that. I’m asking you to a take a 5% pay cut.”

“Council has to do its share and reduce.”

“When we look around the community we know there are still a lot of people who are not back to work.”

He noted that the total reduction in council honorariums would be $7,900, or about $30 per week for Councillors, $60 for the Mayor.

“Council has to do its share and reduce its own budget in order to fall in line with everything else that is being done.”

“I think we have reduced workloads right now. I think base work is a little less.”

In response to a question from Mayor Barry Turner, Corporate Services Director Shawna Jason told Council that the Town is seeing budgetary savings of about $275,000 during the COVID-19 period mainly because of reduced salary costs due to layoffs

“Our municipality is not in a situation where anybody needs to take any kind of a rollback,” said Councillor Nicole Boutestein, declaring her opposition to the motion. “I think we are going to be busier. Things are going to be busier than they’ve ever been due to everyone trying to catch up.”

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Mayor Barry Turner also opposed the motion.

“We’re not faced with an immediate cash crisis,” he said. “If we were faced with the eventuality that Council’s budget and honorariums should be put on the table I absolutely think we should do that. But we’re not there yet”

Turner added, “The 5% reduction would amount to little more than optics, I think.”

Referring to the budget savings resulting from the COVID-19 measures, Deputy Mayor Scott Richardson said, “We did take our savings off the backs of the loss of jobs from our employees.

“We have to ask if a lot of employees were laid off and had to take some kind of a wage rollback, is it right for us to go without taking a rollback of some kind?”

“This isn’t optics it’s not about virtue signalling,” Dafoe said in his concluding statement.  “This is about saying this Council realizes that this community is struggling, realizes that—despite being up a couple of hundred grand by virtue of salaries not being paid.”

“I think this is probably the right thing to do.”

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23 Comments

  1. It would have been a drop in the bucket of the municipal budget they don’t get paid a lot of money. It would not have changed anything about the balance or what can and cannot be afforded by our Town. Definitely optics

    • Mr Dafoe you are certainly a man of principle and I know you had the integrity to stand by it with your own money. I just am not seeing how the decrease would have meaningfully changed the books.

    • Nicole, regardless of how much it did or it didn’t change the books it seems like a smart move to do it either way. I’m a little disappointed it didn’t pass given how many people lost their jobs.

    • Stephen Dafoe – Morinville Council that’s a responsible attitude that I value in an elected official. But I think energy would be better served finding impactful savings in operations and that opinion applies to all levels of government. Taking money out of households whether it be coincillors’ or publicly funded employees never seems like a good solution to me.

  2. Sad day for town council. You laid off staff, citizens in the town are hurting and council couldn’t even take a symbolic gesture pay cut? This will be remembered come next time to vote. I for one will be asking why when you come to my door and say you voted no on this.

  3. That is TOO funny. Do you ReALLY think they would all agree. Bahahahahaha. Good for him for trying!! I’m guessing he wants to get re-elected.

    • Linda Bahm – I’ve been on Council for six years and am undecided if I will seek a third term. At this point, I’m inclined towards not doing so.

      However, as I said in the meeting. I put my money where my mouth was on this motion and donated a portion of my April and May net council pay in April to the town to be used by the FCSS department. I was asked not to make that public but can say it was more than the 5% requested in my Notice of Motion.

      I respect individual Councillor’s reasons for supporting or not supporting the vote.

      I will donate a portion of my June and July pay back to the Town as I did in April and May because I feel it is the right thing to do.

    • Linda – Dafoe wasn’t going to run last time, and was begged to do so by many in the community, because he really is that guy. He has been serving with transparency, integrity and honesty. We are lucky to have him.

    • sad that you suggest that there was a political reason for the Dafoe motion. Clearly integrity is not easily spotted by you.

  4. Will that was very nice of the people that run this town. What about all the workers that did not have a job and still do not have a job. O my next election should be good. Thanks to the mayor and the others for thinking about themselves only. Bye Bye

  5. Based on our current economic situation, and the fact that Morinville is not in a cash crisis, I do not wish to pay any more increases on my tax assessments. This would amount to little more than optics, I think. Thanks Barry!!!!

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