COUNCIL ROLE, RESPONSIBILITIES AND COMPENSATION
Council is comprised of a head of council, called the Reeve or Mayor, and a minimum of four and a maximum of 10 councillors. Municipalities determine their own council size, by by-law. The size of council usually reflects the geographic size of the municipality, its population, and the level of services and programs.
In addition to the elected members, Council may also appoint a youth member – a person who is less than 18 years of age or attending school full time – to sit on Council as a non-voting member. Youth members bring new perspectives to the Council table and generate interest among youth in local government.
ROLE OF COUNCIL
Council is elected to make decisions for the municipality about services, policies and programs. Council members have an equal voice at the council table – every council member has one vote. A majority vote is required to make a council decision. A council decision is the decision of the municipality.
Council is required by The Municipal Act to make decisions that are in the best interests of the municipality as a whole. Individual council members elected on a ward basis must consider the needs of the entire municipality and not only the needs of the ward they represent.
Council may delegate certain powers, duties or functions to the head of council, a council committee, the Chief Administrative Officer or another designated officer for the municipality. There is, however, no authority to delegate powers, duties or functions to an individual council member. This means that individual council members have no authority to make a decision on behalf of the municipality; if they do, they may be held financially or legally liable.
RESPONSIBILITIES OF COUNCIL
The Municipal Act establishes the following Council responsibilities:
• Developing and evaluating the policies and programs of the municipality
Council’s primary role is to ensure services are provided to citizens and property owners. This involves establishing policies about what programs and services are to be delivered, the level of those services, and how those services are to be delivered.
Council is also responsible to ensure that these programs and services meet their objectives and deliver the desired outcomes.
Many municipalities develop and maintain a policy manual. A policy manual provides a sound basis for decision-making and can ensure that policies are consistently implemented by the municipality’s administration, and are clear to council, administration and the public.
• Ensuring that the powers, duties and functions of the municipality are appropriately carried out
Council is accountable to the public for the decisions it makes. Council is also responsible for ensuring that the municipality operates in an open and transparent manner.
• Carrying out the powers, duties and functions expressively given to Council under the Act or any other legislation
Council is responsible to ensure that the municipality acts within the legislation. Council is responsible to ensure that the municipality meets all requirements established in legislation, such as the requirement to hold public meetings on certain matters, maintain roads, develop an annual financial plan (budget) and pass a tax levy by-law, appoint an auditor, etc.
The legislation establishes minimum requirements however Council can go beyond these minimums, providing they act within their broad, legislative authority.
All Councils have a head of council, called either the Reeve or Mayor. The choice of title is a municipal preference, and makes no difference in terms of the role of the head of council. The Reeve/Mayor is often the main spokesperson for the municipality when expressing the municipality’s position to the public or the media, and when attending community events.
Responsibilities of the Reeve/Mayor (under The Municipal Act) include:
• providing leadership and direction to council
• presiding over all Council meetings and Committee meetings when in attendance, except where the municipality’s procedures by-law provides otherwise
• acting as a signing authority for the municipality
• calling a special council meeting
• responsible for all municipal decisions and actions under The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
The Reeve/Mayor also has all the responsibilities of a council member, discussed below.
INDIVIDUAL COUNCIL MEMBERS
Individual council members, including the Reeve/Mayor, also have responsibilities under The Municipal Act, including:
• considering the well-being and interests of the municipality as a whole. All council members, even if elected by ward, have a responsibility to the whole of the municipality.
• Participating in developing and evaluating policies that direct planning, financing and municipal services.
• Participating in and voting at Council meetings, Committee meetings, and on other bodies to which appointed. Council members are expected to attend and be actively involved in the business of those meetings.
• Keeping municipal matters confidential until they are discussed at a meeting open to the public. The consequence for breaching confidentiality is disqualification from council.
Council has the authority to set its own compensation by by-law. It is advisable for council to develop sound policies for compensation and reimbursement of expenses.
A municipality’s compensation policy should be fair and equitable, given the time spent on municipal business, and local costs and conditions.
The Chief Administrative Officer is required to include a detailed account of every payment made to council members in the municipality’s annual financial statement, which is a public document.
Municipality of Bifrost-Riverton By-law 1-2019 establishes the indemnities to be paid to members of Council for 2019.