Alberton councilors could probably see the writing on the wall this week when their colleague, Natasha Dunn, attempted to poll them about holding a pre-budget consultation session with town residents.
The discussion went nowhere, as Mayor Michael Murphy ruled her questioning out of order, and no one pressed the issue.
Councilors would surely know that a public consultation would open the door for discussion on whether the town needs a full-time recreation director/events coordinator. That’s something Dunn has been pressing for, without much success. As well, requests for the position have come up routinely during the public input portion of council meetings.
This doesn’t mean that Dunn would finally win out on the position if a consultation session were held, but it could make things a little awkward for councilors who have been resisting the pressure.
It’s also far from certain that opinion during consultation would tip in favour of a full-time position. Town Council is, after all, getting pretty good bang for its buck with the part-time recreation programming service provided in town by the Western Region Sport and Recreation Council.
Pre-budget consultation is good, though, even if Council hears suggestions it would rather not touch. Councilors are put there to represent the wishes of their residents. They do it best when they know what their residents want, and try to find ways to deliver.
The lack of discussion on a pre-budget consultation suggestion probably had more to do with who was making the suggestion. It’s no secret that Councilor Dunn and Mayor Murphy are polar opposites. They have taken each other to task over the way they carry out their duties, and the rest of council sometimes gets caught in the crossfire.
Differences on council are normal and necessary. They can be the basis of informed and respectful debate. But both councilor and mayor need to set their differences towards the other aside and consider that each other just might want what’s best for the town.