Finances the topic of intense Council talk

Monday’s Regular Meeting of Council saw plenty of discussion surrounding the proposed option of credit card payment for the Town of Hay River.
A lengthy discussion brought forward the opinions of councillors regarding the 2.39 per cent fee accumulated with using a credit card service.
The original motion was to charge that percentage back to the user.

Deputy Mayor Mike Maher was not comfortable with the idea, saying that he doesn’t think that the town should be charging the fee back to the user.
Coun. Andrew Cassidy wondered if it was even possible for the town to charge the user, instead of the Town taking the financial burden, to which Mayor Kelly Schofield said it would be acceptable.
“We did not budget for this,” said Schofield, explaining to Maher as to why the idea of charging the user was raised.
Cassidy suggested charging back to the customer for some specific bills, while the town would take on the cost of others, but Maher disagreed saying that it should be an all or nothing approach.
“To me it should be a service we provide, not a service we provide for nothing,” said Maher.
Coun. Bernie Langille reminded council that credit card would not be the only option, and that anyone unwilling to pay the fee would still have other payment options.
All councillors voted in favour to go ahead and offer credit card use charging the 2.39 per cent fee back to the user, except for Maher.

Banking switch causes debate

The financial talks continued as the motion of switching the town’s finances over to a four-year contract with the Royal Bank of Canada was brought up.
The four-year term would see an initial interest rate of 3.52 per cent.
Deputy Mayor Mike Maher suggested that the council go with a longer term that just four years, suggesting even a 10 year term with RBC.
“Personally, I think if we can lock in at 10 years we should,” he said, stating that who knows how high interest rates will be in four years.
Council cited the letter that they had received from Ashton’s Chartered Accountants when they had asked for financial advice.
Ashton’s suggestion was to lock in for a minimum of five years and to even consider a 10-year option.
Mayor Kelly Schofield expressed confusion over council’s apparent disregard over the financial advice.
Coun. Bernie Langille suggested splitted the number between the four year and 10 year options, going with a seven year term.
Maher stood by his position, saying that council should go with a 10-year option.
“It’s obvious the rates won’t go any lower,” said Maher.
Coun. Kevin Wallington asked for the opinion of each council member before amending his motion.
One by one, the councillors stated which term they thought would be the best for the town.
All agreed that 10 would be the best number, with the new financial institution of RBC.

Off-leash ideas to go to public

The full council was in favour of meeting with Hay River residents to come up with some possible locations for an off-leash area in town.
Coun. Ken Latour came prepared on Monday for the conversation, with a printed out map, but council decided that after discussions take place with residents, a special meeting would be held to narrow down some ideal sites.

Visitor’s guide to
go to Yellowknife company

There was some heated discussion over the decision to award Yellowknife-based Kellet Inc. the job of creating Hay River’s Visitor’s Guide this year.
Several councillors wondered if they would be able to see the scoring results that allowed Kellet to take the job, but Senior Administrative Officer Terry Molenkamp said that the results were confidential. All the proposals were scored using the same system, and the highest one was awarded the contract.
“The highest scoring proposal is the proposal we present to council,” she explained.
Coun. Bernie Langille said that he was concerned that the job was not going to a local company, and was being sent North.
But Deputy Mayor Mike Maher remained confident in the process that the administration had used to select the ideal provider for the book.
“Some did their homework, and some did it better than others,” said Maher.
Coun. Andrew Cassidy mentioned that The Hub had sent out a letter to councillors, stating that they would continue to do their own Visitor’s Guide.
Mayor Kelly Schofield was unaware of this, and suggested taking legal advice to ensure that nothing was crossing any boundaries.
“It’s our guide,” said Maher. “It’s not their guide to do and I think we need to be clear on that.”
All the councillors voted in favour of awarding the contract to Kellet Inc., except for Langille.

Councillor to seek legal advise on

Coun. Bernie Langille has requested a legal opinion on whether or not he is in conflict being both a member of the Chamber of Commerce, and the Council Liason for the organization.
“I think we should do that and get a legal opinion for him,” said Coun. Ken Latour, who noted that Langille was the one motivated to seek counsel.
Coun. Dawna O’Brien suggested seeking an additional opinion, apart from the legal respresentative who was giving council advice on the Conflict of Interest Act.
“Why should we pay for something we know he’s already going to tell us,” said O’Brien, who mentioned that the issue had come up in casual discussions previously.
But Mayor Kelly Schofield disagreed, saying that why would they search for someone else when they have someone qualified and knowledgable on their hands already.
“Who better to ask than one of the guys who wrote the Conflict of Interest Act,”said Schofield. “Who better to ask than the one who teaches the course.”
All the councillors voted in favour, apart from Langille, who had to leave the room during the discussions due to a conflict of interest.