At the Committee of the Whole (CoW) meeting on August 15, Council voted to award a contract to Watson & Associates for a Comprehensive User Fee Study for a total cost of $91,288.90. This despite it being more than the budget allocation of $35,000 and that a second bid closer to the budget was also received. Cobourg News Blog reported on this under the heading “Does Cobourg Use Too Many Consultants” (see Resources below). But because Council is now in a “Lame Duck period”, the additional amount of over $50K is not allowed so the matter came back to Council. The contract was re-negotiated to a lesser amount ($83,500) by assigning some of the work to Staff so the amount over budget was less than $50,000. This tweak would allow the work to be completed in 2022.
But this change needed Council approval so it came to the CoW on 6 September. Once again, Suzanne Séguin and Councillor Chorley wanted the matter deferred to next year so that the budget would not be exceeded (and maybe Staff could do even more of the work?). Mayor Henderson objected saying that the issue had been around for his 12 years on Council and need to be done this year. Suzanne then asked him why had it not been done earlier? John initially avoided an answer but when pressed said that Staff set priorities.
Suzanne presented a motion to defer approval until the new year when it could be added to the 2023 budget but Adam Bureau moved in favour of the original motion (on the Agenda) that the contract be awarded now. It would then be expected to be completed in 2022 and the recommended changes to fees would be incorporated in the 2023 budget.
In the end, Adam’s motion was approved 5-2 with Suzanne and Emily voting against – that is, Suzanne and Emily voted to defer the award for consideration next year.
So what is “Lame Duck”? Provincial legislation says that if on nomination day (August 19), fewer than 75% are running for re-election, then it is in a “lame duck” position and restrictions apply as to what it can do. Emily is not running and one of Nicole and Suzanne will not be in the next Council so that’s two. That leaves five who are running again. 75% of 7 is 5.25. Five is less than 5.25 so there is a “lame duck” condition. This problem can be avoided if a by-law is passed to delegate relevant authority to (e.g.) the CAO but this was not done.
Lame Duck limitations are: Council cannot appoint or remove any officer of the municipality, hire or dismiss any member of town staff, dispose of any town property exceeding $50,000, or make any expenditures and/or incur liability exceeding $50,000.
And one last thing, why is this post later than usual? Well your faithful reporter missed the Council meeting Tuesday night then had to watch the video on Wednesday – and that was a bit late coming online. Better late than never and still in time for the email next morning.
- Does Cobourg Use Too Many Consultants? – 16 August 2022 – includes rationale for the above budget price
- Lame Duck Definition and Origin