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Opinion

Resident Outrage Explained

Long-time village resident Norma Rodgers offered the following comments during the public participation element of the March 7 council meeting, before sharing them with

The Watershed.

I am responding to a statement read last council meeting, because Randi (no last name) referred to the ‘outrage group’ and I am a member.


Contrary to Randi’s assertion, it is not about who was elected, it is about Council’s actions.


Last election, one third of eligible residents failed to vote, one third voted for McLaughlin, one third voted for Berry, and Berry won by 18 votes. So only one third of voters supported change. With a slim mandate and no experience at the Council table, we had hoped Mayor Berry would take time to assess the situation before he led Council to consequential and costly changes. We are outraged about a number of things.


Staff loss

Two thirds of residents were satisfied with village management and a happy stable workforce for the last 7 years. But within weeks of the election a united council terminated then-CAO deJong, and that resulted in four other key staff leaving. We lost a lot of expertise, including a certified water treatment operator slated to replace our current operator when he retires. And the cost of terminating the CAO? How will the village afford a six-figure payout to deJong, since he had a council-approved contract with eighteen months remaining?


Not understanding municipal rules

Council is required to follow the Community Charter rules. Randi complained that discussions about the hiring freeze wasted council time, but the issue needed to be debated. Resolutions, such as cancelling the hiring freeze, need to be brought to open council meetings for discussion, motion, adoption, and then included in the minutes as a formal record. Just making a resolution in a closed meeting leaves the issue in limbo because there is no public record. This debate was about following the rules to properly cancel the hiring freeze so that Council could legitimately hire recent staff. Randi stated “some Councillors are holding the village hostage to the rules”. Yes, they are trying to correct procedures in accordance with the Community Charter.


Cronyism

Residents are accustomed to management and staff being hired based on municipal qualifications, not their relationship to Mayor or Council. Without government experience it is a challenge to follow the Community Charter.


The Watershed reserves the right to edit submissions for brevity, clarity and content.

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