Ratepayers ask for more involvement in Central Huron council meetings

Cynthia Moyers, Huron-Perth Landowners Association. File photo

Cynthia Moyers, Huron-Perth Landowners Association. File photo

HEATHER BOA Bullet News CLINTON – A group of local ratepayers in Central Huron want more opportunity to speak during council meetings, the president of the Huron Perth Landowners Association told the municipal council recently.

Cynthia Moyer presented council with a number of suggestions for change to the municipality’s procedural bylaw that were crafted by a group of local ratepayers during a series of meetings.

“The beauty of municipal governments is that close connection with the community, close connection with the ratepayers,” said Moyer, urging council to engage its residents whenever possible.

Among the suggested changes: increase time allotted to delegations from five minutes to 15 minutes; allow delegations to be added to the agenda once ratepayers know what’s scheduled to be discussed; remove discretion of the clerk to approve a delegation’s request to speak; and move question period to the front of the agenda so ratepayers can have input before decisions are made.

She asked council to consider striking a committee with representation from council and the public to continue its review of the procedural bylaw.

“The community understands how important rules are and essentially the rules on how you govern yourselves and the meetings is kind of a covenant with them. They can expect that what you’re going to do at every meeting can be consistent. And consistency is as important to them as is accountability,” she said.

Coun. Burkhard Metzger thanked Moyer for the “respectful” tone of her presentation, referring to an incident during the Feb. 5 council meeting when he chastised a ratepayer who asked a litany of questions, some of which were unrelated to the evening’s agenda.

“Today proved to me that an efficient presentation, a respectful presentation that funneled everything the group had discussed through Cindy came to us and we had a respectful discourse and everything went fine. That’s how this input works. The reason why it fell off the rails was because it wasn’t all that respectful when it started,” he said.

Council deferred further discussion on the draft procedural bylaw until staff had time to review the changes, including numerous housekeeping changes, suggested by raterpayers and changes suggested by Ombudsman Ontario Andre Marin in his recent report on closed-door meetings in Central Huron. He recommended the municipality’s rules holding closed-door meeting be consistent with the Municipal Act.

The next version of the draft procedural bylaw is expected to be posted on the municipality’s website, with an opportunity for members of the public to make comment in writing or verbally at a future council meeting.

Written by on March 14, 2013 in Central Huron, Clinton - No comments

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