Cornwall staff won’t need to explain 2021 budget changes in detail

City of Cornwall councillors meet through Zoom on Monday, Jan. 25, 2021. (Zoom/YouTube via Newswatch Group)

CORNWALL – An attempt to have City of Cornwall staff justify changes to their operating budgets in detail won’t be happening this year.

Coun. Eric Bergeron’s motion was defeated in a 6-5 vote.

Those that supported the idea included Coun. Justin Towndale who said it was “responsible in governing the city.”

“I don’t think it’s about trusting administration, it’s about our job. I don’t envision this is going to be a lot of homework for them,” Coun. Eric Bergeron said about his motion.

City staff usually present their capital projects in great detail but operating budgets, unless there’s a question from councillors, are largely not scrutinized.

Coun. Dean Hollingsworth says the budget is roughly “60 per cent of our job.” He says the public is more “zoned in” during budget because it falls outside a regular council meeting.

As of those opposed, Coun. Glen Grant says it would make the budget process long and that councillors could ask questions during the quarterly financial reports. “It’s bad enough we have to do things on Zoom,” he said.

Couns. Elaine MacDonald and Syd Gardiner amounted the process to micromanaging.

City council meets for three afternoons, starting next Monday (Feb. 1), to go through the 2021 budget.

Here’s how they voted:

Yes – Eric Bergeron, Dean Hollingsworth, Maurice Dupelle, Justin Towndale, Todd Bennett

No – Claude McIntosh, Syd Gardiner, Carilyne Hebert, Glen Grant, Elaine MacDonald, Bernadette Clement