Bashaw town council dealt with a pair of motions put forward by Coun. Kyle McIntosh during its latest meeting on Feb. 5.
In a move to make the actions of the town more transparent, McIntosh put forward motions requesting that the town set up a committee to review council remuneration and increase council transparency through a range of other actions in a second motion.
“We’re approaching what will be an election year,” said McIntosh.
“Elected officials get to set their own pay with other people’s money … when people are running for council, they should know what they are getting and stick to it the entire term.”
McIntosh proposed to have a committee formed to “put it to the public to figure out what we are worth.”
The committee would research what other councils of similar-sized communities are doing, and bring the information back for council to decide before nominations open in January 2025 for that October’s general election.
Other members of council questioned why the motion was needed.
“This is my fourth council,” said Coun. Brian Gust.
“We have always been very, very conservative with our pay. People are serving more as a volunteers than the hours we spend. It’s more an honorarium than pay.”
Mayor Rob McDonald agreed with Gust.
“Because we set our pay, we have to own the decision 100 per cent,” said McDonald.
McIntosh noted that his intent with the motion was “public participation.”
Ultimately, when it came time to vote, the motion was defeated.
The second motion, dealing with council transparency, brought forward six action items that McIntosh wanted to see brought in to make the town more engaged with the public.
Items included recording and publishing videos of the town council meetings, releasing an unofficial summary of meeting highlights shortly after the meeting, making every vote a recorded vote, creating a process for finding residents who are to be appointed to municipal agencies and boards, and conduct regular “satisfaction surveys” with citizens.
Coun. Jackie Northey had concerns about releasing a video recording of council meetings, noting that it would be possible for anyone to “pull pieces out that won’t have context.”
Gust disagreed with the creation of unofficial highlights as it would be redundant to what the media already does.
Chief administrative officer Theresa Fuller also stepped into the conversation, noting that under the Municipal Government Act, municipalities are not supposed to have every vote as a recorded vote as council works as one body.
“Once that vote is made, then that is a decision of council,” said Fuller.
“Those individuals (that opposed) are now subject to being agreed to that collective decision. If there’s a quorum, it’s not entirely relevant as to who opposed it.”
Due to the many different pieces of McIntosh’s motion, it was decided to vote on each separate piece individually.
The section of the motion pertaining to defining a process for finding residents for municipal agencies and boards and a section directing Fuller to develop “any other such items that the CAO believes will foster the public trust through increased transparency” carried; the remaining sections of the motion, including developing highlights and requiring satisfaction surveys be conducted regularly, were defeated.