Absenteeism an issue at County council?
Sean Chase/Daily Observer Renfrew County council is made up of representatives from 17 member municipalities.
Is absenteeism at Renfrew County council becoming an issue?
It was a questioned posed by members of the media to Warden Jennifer Murphy after six councillors were missing from the regular monthly session on Feb. 28. There were various reasons for the councillors being absent, including two who were on official municipal business and one who was in hospital, however, Murphy said she believes it is not a trend.
“I not necessarily concerned but I do understand the optics of it,” she said.
The County council is made up of representatives from the 17 member municipalities. Some are the actual heads of their council while in the case of Arnprior, Whitewater Region, Laurentian Valley, Renfrew and Deep River, there are elected reeves instead of mayors. A quorum is nine so no votes were deferred.
However, it comes on the heels of a January budget workshop which saw three members absent. Later in that same meeting, two more members left the chamber before a recorded vote was called to accept the tax levy. Under a recorded or weighted vote, municipalities are given a certain number of votes depending on population.
Murphy was asked by reporters if it is time to examine the flat rate for councillors pay, which was implemented in 2014, versus the pier diem system, which compensates mayors and reeves for meetings they attend.
“I think it's worth going back and looking at the pier diem or per meeting model,” she said.
A citizens committee headed up Bruce Beakley, director of human resources, will be reviewing remuneration at all levels. He will also be undertaking a general survey of all counties in Ontario to obtain both their remuneration bylaws and the annual compensation paid out to elected officials in 2017.
Arnprior Reeve Walter Stack, chairman of the finance and administration committee, had been critical of councillors missing the budget workshop. The veteran councillor said there had been attendance problems under the pier diem system
“It's not a salary issue,” said Stack. “If there is an attendance issue then that person needs to be addressed on their attendance.”