Two councillors docked for missed meetings

Tax­payers here may be pleased to know they are not footing the entire bill for absentee councillors.
Last week, this Newspaper reported that Guelph-Eramosa council had the worst rate of absenteeism in the county last year, with 16 combined absences in 22 regular council meetings.
But many residents may be unaware of a remuneration by­law passed by council in October – and a provision contained therein – that takes $200 away from councillors who miss three regular meetings in one year.
Exceptions to the bylaw are made for any councillor who:
– attends a conference, work­shop, or meeting that was pre-approved by council;
– attends a judicial hearing to provide evidence; or
– has a personal illness.
The bylaw also deducts a further $200 for every meeting missed beyond the first three absences.
For example, a councillor who missed four meetings would lose $400, one who miss­ed five meetings would lose $600, and so on. By that formula, councillor Roger Knapp, who missed nine of 22 meetings in 2007, would have had $1,400 – or 15% of his annual pay – deducted last year.
However, the bylaw was not passed until October, with a yearly term running from Nov. 1 to Oct. 31. So including last week’s meeting, Knapp has missed four meetings since Nov. 1, and will lose $400.
Councillor Reta Moyer has missed three meetings in that time frame, losing $200. Councillor John Scott missed three meetings in 2007 – two of which were court ordered – although none were after Nov. 1, so he has not lost any pay to date.
Mayor Chris White and councillor Doug Breen had perfect attendance in 2007.
Clerk Janice Sheppard confirmed on Tuesday that Moyer and Knapp have had $400 and $200 respectively deducted from their annual pay.
She told the Wellington Advertiser the whole idea be­hind the provision is to try to limit councillors’ absences to three or fewer per year.
“We recognized that if councillors aren’t attending meet­ings the ratepayers should­­n’t have to cover the expense,” Sheppard said.
During the formation of the bylaw, township staff reviewed several bylaws from other municipalities. But ultimately, Sheppard said, the final document was made to reflect the situation in Guelph-Eramosa.
Annual pay to Guelph-Eramosa councillors is $9,304 plus expenses. The mayor is paid $13,956 plus expenses.