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Motion for severance, legal costs program request defeated by Cypress County in split vote

Posted on April 18, 2024 by Ryan Dahlman

By Anna Smith
Southern Alberta Newspapers

After an initial request put forward at the March 5 Cypress County council meeting for a year-over-year summary of legal and severance costs, the motion failed on April 3.

The request had been both postponed and shortened from 10 years to only seven after it had come forward as a Program Request, which requires the approval of council, in hopes it would be processed differently.

However, the item returned as another program request. The motion was ultimately split into two, however the request for the legal information was defeated 5-4, and the motion for the severance information was defeated 6-3.

Concerns were raised regarding the privacy of those who had worked at the county, with Coun. Michelle McKenzie noting she believed it likely that with it being year-over-year, people would be able to discern who was involved in the severance payments in each year.

Mentions of opening themselves to potential legal action were raised but it was noted that the information requested could be retrieved by an independent citizen making a FOIP request, with identifying information redacted.

The goal of the motions was to demonstrate there can be potential costs to ensuring that the county is moving forward in the best possible direction, said Coun. Robin Kurpjuweit.

“That was one of the reasons why I brought that forward, is that we could show that a general management practice is sometimes spending money to make sure that we’re doing things as it should be, and to show that we’re following the rules and to kind of provide that clean bill of health,” said Kurpjuweit.

With these motions defeated, council will proceed with a vote on the municipal inspection in the coming meeting, and Kurpjuweit noted there are further motions he intends to make. Mentioned at the April 3 meeting were two new notices of motion from the councillor.

“These will be coming forward on May 7; one of them is looking for an amendment to our procedural bylaw, that would make recorded votes standard,” said Kurpjuweit. He explained that it is in the interest of further transparency as well as to address recent recall legislation.

“Recently, with the recall legislation that’s come out, it gives councillors the ability to have an actual track record that is there, and can be viewed. It’s not only for the public to hold us to account, but also it’s there to help protect us,” said Kurpjuweit. “So that we’re able to stand as individuals as well.”

The second notice was to have an audit committee struck, as to allow for “spot checks” to be done on purchasing policies and procedures.

“My hope is that council will support those moving forward as we want to have more of that transparency,” said Kurpjuweit. He encouraged ratepayers to be engaged, and to contact their representatives to make their thoughts known.

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