Next Council may be issued standardized laptops instead of choosing their own

by Colin Smith

Council members will be provided with Town-owned standard electronic devices at the beginning of their term if proposed Council Remuneration Policy amendments are accepted.

The current option for members to purchase their laptop computers or tablets for Council business use would no longer be available.

Michelle Hay, Administrative Services General Manager, presented a report on the proposed policy changes at the May 18 Committee of the Whole meeting.

It stated that the devices purchased would be the most current model, equipped with the software necessary to carry out Council business and be compatible with Town of Morinville information technology.

The aim is to mitigate data security risks by limiting the use of the device to Council members for Council business only. It would protect the Town’s non-public and operational information by keeping it separate from personal or other business records.

Alerts will be sent to IT so that problems are quarantined, and risks can be monitored and caught more quickly through multiple levels of protection. The result would be a reduction in the Town’s liability risk.

The standardized devices are also intended to provide a consistent user interface for all Council Members. The Administration could provide remote assistance and troubleshooting, and regularly scheduled updates, maintenance and patches could be pushed to the devices.

The cost of purchasing the electronic devices for Council members is included in the 2021 Operating Budget.

If the policy amendments are accepted, the standardized electronic devices will be provided to members of the new Council following the October 18 municipal election.

This change would take place during an information technology orientation session scheduled as part of the 2021-2025 Council Orientation and Training Plan. IT personnel will be available to guide and answer questions.

At the end of their terms, or on resigning from Council, Councillors will return tall electronic devices and software to the Town.

In discussing the proposed policy amendments, the usefulness of Town-provided electronic devices was questioned by Councillor Scott Richardson.

“There’s not a lot of need for computers, “Richardson said, explaining that he took care of almost all Council business on his mobile phone.
Councillors Rebecca Balanko and Stephen Dafoe made similar remarks.
In response to a question, Chief Administrative Officer Stephane Labonne said Administration was not proposing that Councillors be barred from doing Town business on their phones.

However, Labonne said the Town-supplied electronic devices would be equipped with the software needed for a new Council meeting management system to be rolled out this summer.

Compensation to be considered

Pay rates for Morinville’s Mayor and Councillors in 2021 are also set out in the proposed amended Council Remuneration Policy.

The Mayor currently receives $5,742 in salary per month, for an annual total of $65,667.09. The monthly salary for Councillors is $2,940.49, amounting to $35,285.88 per year.

Council members also receive standard per diem pay for attending certain events. These range from $50 for up to two hours to $300, the daily maximum, for more than eight hours. For conferences, the daily maximum is $200. Other per diems and honorariums apply to some Council-appointed Committees.

Council members are also reimbursed for mileage at the Government of Alberta rate of 0.505 per kilometre.

Government of Alberta rates are also used for meal allowances. The maximum for breakfast is set at $9.20, with lunch at $11.60 and dinner at $20.75.

The proposed policy amendments were referred to the June 8 regular meeting of Council for decission.

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