While it may have looked like the old gameshow “Hollywood Squares” on your TV, Council got down to business as best as it could by embracing technology to advance the business of the Town in these challenging times.

With financial impacts of COVID-19 greatly on the minds of residents, businesses and some Councillors, there was some healthy debate on many issues that had impact on financial matters. First up was whether to fast-track the hiring of an Economic Development Officer, originally scheduled for the fall.

As a preface, consider the words of the Town’s Director of Finance, also echoed by the Mayor, where he stated:

“We don’t know at this point how long the pandemic will continue.  So it is very important that the Town have adequate cashflow to maintain sufficient liquidity and maintain operations during this unprecedented time.”

With some Councillors concerned there may be little or no trickle-down effect from an Economic Development Officer in this crisis, alternative and more cost-effective strategies were proposed but dismissed by the “G5” Councillors who voted together to accelerate the hiring. It should be interesting to see whether this action will help your bottom-line or solely the bottom-line of the person picked for the job.

YEAS - SUPPORTED FAST-TRACK HIRING 

Councillor
Ritchie
Ward 1

Councillor
Kadwell
Ward 2

Councillor
Dunstall
Ward 3

Councillor
Vaine
Ward 3

Councillor
Sharpe
Ward 4
NAYS - DID NOT SUPPORT FAST-TRACK HIRING 

Mayor
Jordan

Councillor
Freake
Ward 1

Councillor
Vardy
Ward 2

Councillor
Bothwell
Ward 4

The second interesting item was concerning a “Notice of Motion” from Councillor Vardy to implement an immediate hiring freeze at the Town. Although the motion would have been scheduled to be heard at the April 20th Council Meeting, Councillor Vardy requested to “suspend the rules” to have her motion immediately discussed and voted on.

Not surprisingly the same politburo of 5 Councillors voted down the opportunity to discuss, let alone enact, an immediate hiring freeze. That motion will now be fully debated on April 20th. But with a 2 week window before that could possibly be approved, why not stop the potential bleeding of now-crucial tax dollars immediately?

YEAS - WANTED TO DISCUSS AN IMMEDIATE HIRING FREEZE 

Mayor
Jordan

Councillor
Freake
Ward 1

Councillor
Vardy
Ward 2

Councillor
Bothwell
Ward 4
NAYS - DENIED DISCUSSION ON AN IMMEDIATE HIRING FREEZE 

Councillor
Ritchie
Ward 1

Councillor
Kadwell
Ward 2

Councillor
Dunstall
Ward 3

Councillor
Vaine
Ward 3

Councillor
Sharpe
Ward 4

As a final and mind-boggling act for the evening, the block voting continued with the same 5 Councillors seeing it appropriate to approve themselves a pay raise, retroactive to January 1, 2020. You can check out the numbers at this link here.

Councillor Bothwell, introduced an alternative and common-sense motion that would have frozen Council pay at 2019 levels, given the current pandemic, it’s financial impact and the fact that Grimsby Council is already paid above the median of comparable municipalities. Needless to say it was voted down by the Fab 5.

So in the time of need, who voted themselves a pay increase?

YEAS - VOTED TO INCREASE THEIR PAY 

Councillor
Ritchie
Ward 1

Councillor
Kadwell
Ward 2

Councillor
Dunstall
Ward 3

Councillor
Vaine
Ward 3

Councillor
Sharpe
Ward 4
NAYS - DID NOT SUPPORT PAY INCREASE 

Mayor
Jordan

Councillor
Freake
Ward 1

Councillor
Vardy
Ward 2

Councillor
Bothwell
Ward 4

It seems that certain members of Council can not comprehend the gravity of the current situation before us and it’s potential to go sideways in many facets. In a time when tax dollars should be viewed as a resource to be conserved given the uncertainty of how this whole pandemic will last and will play out, it seems to be “business as usual” for some politicians.

You can watch a playback of the meeting at the following link:
https://vimeo.com/404746488

EDIT: If you wish to watch the discussion on the pay increase, it is at the above link starting at 1:54:40