ARMCHAIR MAYOR SAYS — There’s a little known and rarely used law in B.C. that gives mayors the power of forcing sober second thought on issues they deem important. Mayor Peter Milobar should use it to erase City council’s decision on pay raises and start over.
Clause 131(1) of the Community Charter — the legislation that governs how municipalities work — states that “the mayor may require the council to reconsider and vote again on a matter that was the subject of a vote.”
Normally, if a council decision is to be reconsidered, it must be a member who voted in favour of it the first time who proposes it be raised again, but clause 131 gives the mayor special authority to do so.
Tuesday, with only six of nine members at the meeting, council approved pay raises for the next council, taking effect in 2015. Those raises are considerable, roughly $10,000 a year for each. In today’s Armchair Mayor column in The Kamloops Daily News, I’ve offered my thoughts on the methodology of the seven-member citizens’ committee that came up with the recommendation.
With a third of their members, including the mayor (Coun. Nelly Dever took over as chair), missing, council should have tabled the recommendation to another day when everybody was there. For some reason, none of them tried to do that.
When decisions are made on how much councillors are to be paid, the entire council should be present. Let’s keep in mind that while much is being made of the fact the raises won’t come into effect until the “next council” takes office, most and maybe all of that next council will be the exact same people who are making the decision now.
Here’s how reconsideration would work. The mayor would simply declare that he is invoking Section 131(1) on the motion to raise council salaries. This would automatically render the decision null and void. He should do this at the first opportunity, but he legally has until 30 days from this past Tuesday to do it.
A new motion could then be introduced by any member of council and the matter debated and voted on again. In the original vote, four members were in favour, two opposed. Four members is less than half the number who sit on council, and that’s not good enough for an issue like this.
The end result might be the same, but the mayor has a duty to use his authority to make sure the decision is made with every member of council in the room, and he should do it at the first opportunity.