City Council Attendance

The problem: Councillors often don’t show up to meetings. Sometimes, so many are absent that City Council lacks quorum and can’t conduct business—which happened on March 12th, 2012, for instance.

Since it is so important for councillors to be present at City Council meetings, section 6.05 of By-law A-2 prescribes a financial penalty if they don’t show up:

When the Mayor, Deputy Mayor, or any Councillor is absent from a regular meeting of the Council, the City Treasurer shall deduct the sum of ten dollars from the salary of each absentee unless such absentee is excused for reasonable cause by resolution of the Council.

Considering that councillors are paid over $10,000 per year—much more for the Mayor and Deputy Mayor—a $10 penalty isn’t much. Despite this, no councillors ever actually pay the penalty. Every single time councillors have been absent, for any reason, for as long as meeting minutes have been posted online (since 2009), the other councillors have voted unanimously to pay them in full without citing any reasons for their absence.

To illustrate how often councillors miss meetings, this document shows how many each councillor missed in 2010, and this document shows how many each councillor missed in 2011.

Bottom line: our city should not be paying councillors in full to not show up to work.

Proposed solution: Given that city councillors have a serious obligation to show up to meetings and represent their constituents, I propose that the penalty for missing Council meetings be increased to $50, and councillors should vote against any motion to pay absent councillors their full salary unless they have reasonable cause to be absent. Reasonable cause includes jury duty, hospitalization, weddings, funerals, being out of town on City business, and the like.

Source: City Council minutes, posted here.

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