Monday night’s meeting of Weyburn City Council saw a discussion on the leave of absence of Councillor Dick Michel. Michel, who has been on the leave since September due to unforeseen circumstances, requested an extension of the leave.
The options before council were to grant the leave, disqualify Michel from council which would prompt a by-election, or vote to excuse his absence at each individual meeting.
The motion put forward by Councillor Jeff Richards was for an extension until March 27th of this year, but there were discussions about how things would work when it comes to remuneration. The issue was brought up when Mayor Marcel Roy inquired if the motion to extend the leave of absence would be with pay or not.
“As this was an extension, at that time the bylaw provides for a leave of absence as it is right now, so now with an extension, because of the extension, I just believed there should be a little bit different circumstances than that,” Roy explained after the meeting.
Other councillors spoke in support of Michel receiving his pay, partly due to how the remuneration policy for councillors works. The policy states that a penalty can be imposed by a motion passed by council when a councillor has missed a number of meetings. The policy, though, doesn’t provide much in the way of specifics for the current situation.
Councillor Ryan Janke defended the motion put forward, with the pay for Michel left intact, partly because of how he read the policy.
“My own interpretation of the Municipalities Act here is that we wouldn’t be able to withhold pay; we would be able to impose a financial penalty to match that, and while I don’t really know if that is worth investigating, I do agree with some of the other comments that we would need to make sure we knew exactly what we were doing before we put a motion in place to impose a financial penalty on an elected official,” Janke stated.
The motion that was put forward for the extension of the leave of absence for Councillor Michel, with pay, passed by a vote of 5-1, with Mayor Roy being the only dissenting vote.
Further discussion about having administration look further into how a penalty could work in the future was had but ended quickly by pointing out that the cost of finding the answer could very well exceed the amount that would be recouped by a financial penalty.
The council also passed a motion establishing the boards for 2023. It was noted that Councillor Michel will not be serving on the Environmental committee, with Mayor Roy taking his place. It was also noted that there were vacancies on that committee, as well as the Leisure Services and Parks board.