ALBERTON – Mayor Michael Murphy said Thursday he sees no reason why a public pre-budget discussion couldn’t be scheduled if his council signals it wants one.
“It’s not ruled out. There’s always the option there. If council feels that they want to go that route, I wouldn’t oppose it,” said the mayor.
He was responding to concerns raised by Councillor Natasha Dunn.
In a press release issued this week Dunn complained that the mayor shut down discussion when she tried to gauge council’s interest in a pre-budget public session.
“I think you’re a little out of line there; I think that’s up to the mayor to call it,” Murphy interrupted and then changed the subject.
The matter didn’t resurface again during the meeting.
On Thursday the mayor defended his stance.
“I don’t really feel it’s her call to make that anyway; I think it’s the chair of finance. If he wants to make that call, it’s up to him.”
Dunn had actually put the question to finance chair, David Cahill, initially.
“I’m not going to make that decision. It’s up to council,” Cahill had responded.
Seizing an opening, Dunn had asked if that was something council would like to do. That’s when Murphy ended the discussion.
Dunn wondered in her release about the usefulness of council if the mayor makes the decision.
“Time and time again, the residents, the taxpayers have asked for a more transparent and engaging municipal government, and by hosting a public input meeting on the budget would show that the Alberton Town Council is serious about hearing the concerns of the residents,” she insisted. “This is not the decision of one man but would stem from the decision-making ability of an elected council.”
Referring to Section 22 (7) of the Municipalities Act, that all decisions affecting the municipality shall be made by council, Dunn suggested it was actually the mayor who was out of order on Jan. 13.