Training session to be held for new council members

By Karen Fallon

At the February 7, council meeting Councillor Diane Pouget made a motion to request that the new councillors meet with a representative from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing to receive guidance in respect to their role on council.

At that time noted Pouget, she along with council members Bart DiPasquale, Carolyn Davies, and deputy mayor Ron Sutherland, needed training in the area of: “Rights, duties and obligations involving complaints, policies and procedures, in-camera meetings and rules of order according to the Municipal Act.”

In a recent report to council CAO Pam Malott says that such a training session has been set for Sept 29.   The session will be facilitated by Fred Dean who: “Has worked with elected officials and municipal staff, giving civic leaders the tools to make effective decisions on behalf of their communities.”

In addition, it notes in the report, Dean has served local government in Ontario by giving advice to municipal officials on a variety of matters including governance, conflict of interest, codes of conduct and municipal powers.

Councillor John Sutton says he was, “glad to see this come to the agenda.”

However, noted Sutton he believes the instruction is also offered through AMO – Association of Ontario Municipalities – at a reduced cost.

“I recognize that this would push it back to 2012,” said Sutton, who indicated such a move would save the municipality money.

“As beneficial as is will be for council to undertake the training I think it is incumbent upon us to select the most cost effective means possible,” he added.

The cost of the training session is pegged at an unbudgeted amount of approximately $ 3,500 plus Council per diem.

“With per diem we are looking at an unbudgeted expense of approximately $5,000” said Sutton.

According to Malott new council members from eight area municipalities attended an orientation session held in January which also featured representatives of the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing.

Pouget says she was unable to make this meeting, hosted by the Town of Amherstburg, because of work commitments.

Earlier on the agenda that evening Councillor Carolyn Davies’ request that the cost of her attendance at the up-coming AMO conference of $1,926.38 be paid from the unused communal fund for Council Conventions and Seminars, was denied by council.

According to Malott’s report, on an annual basis each member of Council is entitled to receive an allowance for attendance at conferences or conventions for associated costs. Each Council member is entitled to receive an allowance of up to $1,000 for conferences and conventions to be used at their discretion.

The balance of the budgeted money becomes a communal fund to be distributed based on the educational priorities of Council. The use of the communal fund is to be agreed upon in advance of costs being incurred.

Davies says that as she believes attendance at the AMO conference being held in London in August will provide beneficial information regarding her position on council, she will be paying for it herself.

“I think it is important to go to more than one conference especially when you are new because there is so much to learn,” said Davies who has already been to one this year.

DiPasquale suggested that as there is approximately $1,900 left in the communal fund that it should be used to help defray the unbudgeted cost of the training session for the new members of council.

“Nothing against another councillor going on another conference but if everyone knew there was money left over they may have wanted to go,” said DiPasquale. “I think the money would serve better if it went to offset the cost of the 29th of September (training session).”

Although there is much to learn at conferences says councillor Robert Pillon, the town has “its own trained professionals such as the CAO, planner who give advice.

“That’s what these trained professionals are for to help us and guide us,” he said.

DiPasquale’s motion to request that the approximately $1,900 be used to supplement the training session in September was passed by council.

Comments are closed.