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Mystery councillor pushes bylaw change

By: Jordan Ross

Posted: 01/10/2019 9:00 AM

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La Broquerie council moved Wednesday to adjust their net pay as a result of a federal tax code change, but not before creating a little intrigue.

Presented with a revised indemnity bylaw, councillors flagged a new line stating "any unapproved absences will be deducted from the monthly indemnity" of a council member.

"We should take that out," remarked Councillor Darrell Unger, who also serves as deputy reeve.

Chief administrative officer Anne Burns explained she added the clause at the request of a member of council whose name she wouldn’t disclose.

"That’s what your indemnity is for, is to attend council meetings," she offered by way of a reminder.

Whichever council member made the request refrained from defending the change during the ensuing discussion. In the end, council deleted the pay deduction clause and gave the bylaw first reading.

The Municipal Act neither requires nor prohibits council from imposing a pay deduction for absences, but stipulates a councillor forfeits their seat if they miss three consecutive meetings without securing leave from council.

The Carillon approached all seven council members after the meeting and asked if they had suggested the pay deduction clause.

Four declined to comment including Unger as well as councillors Paul Gauthier, John Letkeman and Larry Tetrault. The remaining three—Reeve Lewis Weiss, Councillor Alvin Derksen, and Councillor Ivan Normandeau—said the edit wasn’t their idea.

Weiss later noted councillors often review agenda materials even when they miss a meeting, and perform unpaid work, such as drainage and road inspections. Unexplained absences are rare, he added.

Figures contained in the new bylaw are intended to offset the removal of a section of the Income Tax Act that exempted one-third of a councillor’s total compensation from income tax.

The reeve’s annual compensation would rise to $20,721 from $17,805, while the deputy reeve would receive $16,002, up from $12,324.

Ward councillors, who currently receive $12,324 annually, would instead be paid $15,240.

The tax code change also impacts daily allowances for conducting municipal business, which would rise to $185 from $150. LUD committee members would also see their monthly indemnity bumped up to $342 from $315.

Mileage rates and room and board per diems would remain unchanged.

The municipality’s indemnity bylaw was last revised in June 2017.

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