‘Time for this city to get moving’: MacDonald’s vision for smaller council left to fall planning session

Cornwall Coun. Mark MacDonald, seen here in a December 2014 council meeting, says it's time for the city to get lean and mean in order to have the city grow. His requested report on options for looking at a smaller council has been left until a fall planning session. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston, File)

CORNWALL – City council wasn’t about to pull the trigger on a process to reduce the size of council.

A report received by councillors last night (Monday) suggested either a public open house, a referendum or hiring a consultant.

Each of the options come with their own set of challenges, be it lower voter engagement or turnout or the amount of time for the process.

However, the majority of councillors seemed to be leaning toward putting the issue on the ballot in the 2018 municipal election.

In an interview with Cornwall Newswatch, Coun. Mark MacDonald, who asked for the report, wasn’t completely satisfied it and said it “could have contained more details with respect with amount of committees that we are legislated to have.”

“I firmly believe that in achieving our long term financial objectives…it’s not just to raise taxes. We have to look at issues where we are operating beyond our legislative needs. This council is one of them. Legislatively speaking, we only need five members of council – four councillors and a mayor, yet we are choosing to have 11.”

MacDonald said it’s not about saving any money and he told council it’s “never been about saving money.”

Under MacDonald’s vision, the mayor and councillors would be paid more than the $23,000 a year they receive now in salary and supplies. He would expect them to receive per diems or honorariums for committee meetings – something they are not getting now – and more like their counterparts at the United Counties of SD&G.

They would be working “basically full time” MacDonald said.

“But there would still be savings,” he added.

Asked if the issue was deviating from working on other issues to grow the city, MacDonald disagreed. “We need to be lean and mean and we need to grow this city.”

The matter will be going to the strategic planning session, which is typically held over a weekend in the fall.

“It’s time for this city to get moving forward are you’re not going to do that with 11 councillors sitting around the table debating everything on and on and on. Nothing gets done.”