ST. PAUL - Town of St. Paul council passed its remuneration policy during the Jan. 10 council meeting, after the previous policy expired at the end of December.
According to the policy, council's honoraria stayed the same as the 2019-2021 rates, which is $2,954 per month for the mayor, and $1,710 per month for councillors.
Per diem rates also remained the same as the 2019-2021 rates, which are: $257 for more than four hours in duration, and $154 for less than four hours in duration.
Council members will also continue to receive an office allowance of $95 per month.
When asked why council has decided to keep rates at the same level, Mayor Maureen Miller said that she had not had a conversation with council prior to Monday's council meeting about the issue, and feels that since council approved the updated policy, she feels members likely feel adequately remunerated for their service.
During discussions of the policy, it was noted that the health benefits policy approved by council at the organizational meeting in October were not included in the policy. Coun. Norm Noel requested wording be added to the policy regarding the benefits.
In order for council to opt in to the Town's benefit plan, all of council - including the mayor - had to opt in.
At the organizational meeting, a motion to "opt in for mayor and council benefits for full coverage with the base amount of $50,000 for Life & Accidental Death & Dismemberment. Further to this, that the Town cover the premiums for extended healthcare and dental while each member of council is responsible for the premiums for Life Benefits as well as Accidental Death & Dismemberment," was carried.
When asked what the financial implications of having council opt in to health and dental benefits were, CAO Steven Jeffery provided a breakdown that shows the annual cost of benefits for council coming in at $31,598.
After tabling the item so the wording regarding benefits could be put together, a motion was passed to approve the policy as amended.
The policy is in place until March 1, 2026, to give the next council - that will be elected in 2025 - a few months to consider things before the policy expires.
Recreation board positions
Discussions on Town of St. Paul Recreation Board positions took up a portion of the Jan. 10 meeting, with council approving one of the County of St. Paul's chosen representatives, but opted to table a motion regarding a second appointment.
The Town had two County members-at-large positions vacant on the board. Colette Labrie was appointed as a member-at-large to represent the St. Paul AG Society, which was approved by Town council.
The other name put forward to fill the second member-at-large position was Daniel Reid, who also happens to be the County of St. Paul's director of public works.
Coun. Brad Eamon was the first to speak about concerns around the Town not knowing if there were other applicants for the position.
Coun. Nathan Taylor, who requested the motion be split in two, also voiced concern about a municipal manager being appointed to the member-at-large position. He noted that he welcomes and value Reid's opinions and advice, but would like to see more input from outside the local governments.
Taylor added that he didn't feel the Town had to have a reason to not accept the name put forward, and affirmed his concerns were solely based on wanting more input from the community.
Coun. Ron Boisvert said he didn't have any issue with having a municipal manager sit in the position, and Tim Mahdiuk, who is the County's director of community services, has held a member-at-large position in the past as a Town resident.
Eamon said he agreed with Taylor, saying the idea of having members-at-large is to get people from the outside in and grow. He added that he agreed with having the County of St. Paul be part of the board, in some capacity.
While Coun. Norm Noel said he felt the Town should accept the position in good faith since there were not other guidelines in place, Eamon disagreed, saying he felt it was for the Town to make a decision.
"It's nothing against Mr. Reid," said Eamon.
During discussions, the idea of having a representative specifically from the County of St. Paul's staff, along with a member-at-large position, was brought up.
A motion to table a decision regarding the member-at-large appointment, giving administration time to speak with the County of St. Paul on the issue, was approved.
On a similar topic, Town council then voted to fill Town members-at-large vacancies on the recreation board. Five applicants put their names forward for the two vacant positions, and Mayor Maureen Miller noted that some "strong applicants" were received.
The successful applicants will serve four-year terms from January of 2022, to December of 2025.
After doing a vote via a Zoom poll, the two successful applicants were Daniel Gadowski and Jeff Slater.
Jeremy Blanchette and Maurice Brousseau also sit on the recreation board as Town of St. Paul members-at-large.
"I want to thank all those applicants who actually put their name forward. Parks and recreation is a big part of St. Paul. We pride ourselves in having the facilities that we have," said Miller.
The St. Paul & Chamber of Commerce is applying for a “Commemorate Canada – Reopening grant” and requested a letter of support from the Town of St. Paul.
The application will focus on partnering with Chambers of Commerce in Smoky Lake and Elk Point, taking a regional approach to bring people into the area. Among the list of ideas for the grant is a monument to celebrate the Métis history of St. Paul in the form of a Red River Cart surrounded by gardens at Lagasse Park. A commemoration to frontline workers who worked hard during the pandemic would also be built into the project in some way.
Council approved providing a letter of support to the potential project.