Question of negative pecuniary interest in Town of Ponoka councillors being served

Question of negative pecuniary interest in Town of Ponoka councillors being served

Municipal Affairs to receive letter from the Town of Ponoka over potential quorum issue

Town council had a 4/3 split vote on the question of pecuniary interest related to a civil suit by resident Greg Nelson.

Since Nelson served the town in June over the borrowing bylaw for the Landrex development, administration said there may be some concern over a pecuniary interest in the case considering councillors — except Loanna Gulka who voted against the Landrex deal.

CAO Albert Flootman said the town is defending against the claim.

“This is an allegation that is being defended on the grounds that the Town has not exceeded its borrowing limit, based on a proper calculation of the present value (PV) of the leased premises, and that the bylaw is valid,” he said.

The Town of Ponoka is also named as a respondent.

Flootman said councillors have to self-declare pecuniary interest but in this case if they do, they wouldn’t be able to vote and that would mean no quorum.

Councillor Teri Underhill did not agree with the request pointing out that councillors do not gain any financial benefit from the Landrex development.

Flootman suggests that the pecuniary interest could be in a gain or loss of money. For the latter, the loss would be if councillors were actually found to be personally liable.

This matter is actually scheduled to be heard by a justice in special chambers in February 2018.

What this means for this council is unclear as there will be a new council in place by this time.

The recommendation from administration is to have councillors consider whether they have pecuniary interest and that if council determines it doesn’t have quorum based on administration’s advice, then a letter should be sent to the Minister of Municipal Affairs requesting an order to vote on the matter.

Coun. Tim Falkiner recommended council get the letter written. “If we have to wait, anything we have to vote on will be delayed.”

He subsequently declared pecuniary interest on the matter.

Council approved the motion 4-3 with Mayor Rick Bonnett, Underhill and Coun. Carla Prediger voting against it.