Council returns to budget deliberations and immediately goes into a CLOSED session

budget 2021By Pepper Parr

February 25th, 2021


Updated on February 25th: 11:07 am

A day off doesn’t seem to have changed a thing.

No sooner had Rory Nisan, Chair of the Corporate Services, Strategy, Risk and Accountability (CSSRA) committee, gotten through the Declarations of a Pecuniary Interest (there were none) and noting that there was nothing on the consent agenda – the meeting slid over to John Ford who said Tuesday had been a long day and then passed things along to Laurie Jivan who said that the tax rate for the city spending would amount to 4.18 % (that would be the increase over the 2020 budget) and that if they wanted to get it to 3.99% they would have to find $343,000 in savings.

The meeting returned to Nisan who said the Committee was going to look at items #4 and #24 on the Budget Action Requests (BAR) forms and in order to do that the Committee would have to go into CLOSED session.

Nisan asked Galbraith to so move, Galbraith did, everyone voted yes let’s do that and the screen went to the CLOSED image.
Not one member of Council asked for detail on why they were going into a CLOSED session.

CLOSED screen shot

Those who watch Council meeting webcasts would have seen this image often – too often?

Item #4 on the BAR form was a provision to reduce the amount that was to go into the Contingency Reserve. Staff was recommending anything between $100,000 and $338,445. The Mayor wanted that amount to be $400,000 while Councillors Bentivegna, Kearns, Galbraith, Nisan, and Sharman wanted the amount to be $100,000

Item 24 on the Bar forms was to remove $154,470 from the spending – remove 1 legal staff who worked on Community Planning matter. Bentivegna, Galbraith and Sharman proposed this.

A former councillor at a Halton municipality pointed out to us in an email that:

A meeting or part of a meeting may be closed to the public if the subject matter being considered is:

the security of the property of the municipality or local board

• personal matters about an identifiable individual, including municipal or local board employees

• a proposed or pending acquisition or disposition of land by the municipality or local board

• labour relations or employee negotiations

• litigation or potential litigation, including matters before administrative tribunals, affecting the municipality or local board

• advice that is subject to solicitor-client privilege, including communications necessary for that purpose

• a matter in respect of which a council, board, committee or other body may hold a closed meeting under another Act

• information explicitly supplied in confidence to the municipality or local board by Canada, a province or territory or a Crown agency of any of them

• a trade secret or scientific, technical, commercial, financial or labour relations information, supplied in confidence to the municipality or local board, which, if disclosed, could reasonably be expected to prejudice significantly the competitive position or interfere significantly with the contractual or other negotiations of a person, group of persons, or organization

• a trade secret or scientific, technical, commercial or financial information that belongs to the municipality or local board and has monetary value or potential monetary value

• a position, plan, procedure, criteria or instruction to be applied to any negotiations carried on or to be carried on by or on behalf of the municipality or local board.

In a memo to Council the Finance department provided the following comment on the Provision to Contingency Reserve – As stated in the budget reduction list provided to you on February 1st, the list included a $100,000 reduction to the provision that would flatline the amount to the 2020 budget. The note included that the uncommitted balance was approximately $9.5 million. A question was asked as to whether the amount of the provision could be reduced further given this balance. Legal staff are reviewing outstanding and potential future litigation matters. At this time, a range could be considered for Committee’s discussion. This range would be from $100,000 (results in a budget provision of $2,038,445) to $338,445 (results in a budget provision of $1,800,000).

Would item #4 and # 24 meet these conditions?  At some point the provincial Ombudsman will be asked to investigate and determine if these two, along with the other multiple occasion Council went into CLOSED on this budget – which at this moment has yet to be agreed upon before it goes to Council on March 3rd – and when you will know how much of your money is going to slide out of your pocket.

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