It’s not a case of business as usual now that the ministry has approved a two-member quorum in Warfield.
But at least cheques can be signed and bills can be paid until the byelection for two councillors and a mayor winds up in late February.
Deputy Mayor Arlene Parkinson confirmed the village received a Jan. 6 Ministerial Order that permits her and Coun. Shane Ferraro to take care of run-of-the-mill duties – understandably, no weighty decisions are allowed.
“We can operate a council meeting and we can run the village,” Parkinson told the Trail Times. “We are not constituted to make any big decisions or financial decisions, it’s basically to keep the doors open.”
Warfield Coun. Arlene Parkinson
A key obligation of any municipal council is to review monthly statements and respective bills then clarify concerns and follow up with payment approval during a regular meeting’s consent agenda.
“That was kind of the whole issue for us,” said Parkinson. “Jackie (Jackie Patridge, Warfield’s Corporate Officer) had given the ministry a heads up as early as Dec. 13 (because) part of council’s responsibility is to approve all cheques before they are issued – most of the bills are pretty mundane and the same thing every month.”
Without the Ministerial Order in place for the village’s first new year meeting on Jan. 4., council was subsequently cancelled. With a busy month ahead, civic councils usually begin budgetary reviews and early deliberations in January, Parkinson said the next meeting will proceed on Jan. 18.
“Shane and I and Jackie, of course, are going to look at it and we will have some work done by the time new council comes on,” she said. “Because we would be in a real bad time crunch if we left it.”
Municipal budgets, which set annual property tax levies, are finalized each May although the development of the plan begins months before. Councils usually host a budget open house in March or April of each year to present a draft budget to the community.
Patridge clarified Warfield must have its budget finalized by May 12 and sent to the government by May 16.
With the nomination period open now and until Jan. 20 , Parkinson had a little advice to share with Warfield candidates.
“Those new council members and the new mayor are going to be very busy.”
Parkinson won her councillor position in Warfield’s 2016 byelection. She reminds all village electors to come out to the polls and cast a ballot during two advance voting opportunities on Feb. 15 and Feb. 22, or general voting day on Feb. 25.
“My hope is to get more voters out than we have in the past,” she added.
In a letter to the village, the assistant Deputy Minister for the Inspector of Municipalities states, “given the need for a Ministerial Order, I would expect that council’s focus until the first meeting of the new council well be on its statutory obligations and actions necessary to deliver and maintain services to Village of Warfield citizens. I would request that until the council vacancies have been filled through byelection, council not set any overall strategic or policy directions or take new decision which would create legal or financial liabilities for the village.”