Out with the new, and in with the old.
At Neepawa's regular meeting last Tuesday, council voted down a proposal to switch to a committee of the whole and instead passed a resolution to continue with the sub-committee system for 2014.
The committee of the whole approach would see all council matters discussed and debated with all councillors present.
The sub-committee system instead breaks council into four, two-councillor plus mayor committees. Each sub-committee brings its recommendation on matters back to council, along with all of the background information on the matter, and the resolution is then voted on with all councillors present.
Councillors cited one of the main reasons the sub-committee system was chosen was due to it being commitment-sensitive – councillors with already busy schedules won't have to attend all meetings.
Mayor Ken Waddell also pointed out the system is believed to actually accelerate decisions being made, rather than the stall that is sometimes experienced.
“Council wants to move projects forward and decided a two-person committee, with mayor ex-officio, is the best way to move ahead,” Waddell said. “The committee members, and especially the committee chair, takes charge of the policies and projects, and acts as a proponent.”
One of the negatives caused by not using the committee of the whole is – at least in perception - a lack of involvement in issues from all councillors, which creates the potential for councillors to not make fully-informed decisions by the time the matter reaches regular council meetings for vote.
Mayor Waddell believes the way Neepawa's sub-committee system is set up eliminates those concerns as best possible.
“The minutes are circulated (from committee meetings to all councillors), the reports are brought back to council, and non-committee members can make an inquiry to the chairmen privately or at a meeting,” Waddell said.
The council will continue to have four committees in 2014 – the Community Development Committee (chair Coun. Bill Stilwell with Coun. Sheri Grant), Community Services Committee (chair Coun. Allan Drysdale with Coun. Robyn Copeland), Infrastructure Committee (chair Copeland with Coun. Lisa Pottinger), and Human Resources Committee (chair Coun. Dean Dietrich with Pottinger). The mayor is involved with all committees and meetings.
There may be issues that are overlapping and require committees be combined. Certain matters will also reach council's table without prior discussion in committees.