Two Inuvik Town councillors are speaking out about the frequency of town council meetings and are calling for a more concentrated forum for decision making.

Coun. Ray Solotki and deputy mayor Paul MacDonald both told Inuvik Drum they are frustrated with council having four meetings a month when some of those meetings don’t even last 10 minutes.

“There’s no reason we couldn’t discuss something and vote on it the same day,” said MacDonald. “If you needed more information, defer it to the next meeting.

“I am frustrated by the lackadaisical attitude of council that there is a colossal waste of money and there are a lot of concerns with the administration.”

Elected officials are paid an honorarium for each meeting they attend, which since the Covid-19 pandemic was declared a year ago involves calling into a Zoom call up to four times a month.

Regular council members are paid $150 for each regular, special or committee of the whole attended, whereas the deputy mayor is paid $210 per meeting. The Mayor is paid at an hourly rate based on how many years of an up-to six-year term have been served, starting at $43.34 for year one and topping out at $54.13 for year six.

Town staff do not get paid extra to attend meetings — attendance is factored into administrations regular duties.

Up until recently Councillors were also attending several committee meetings throughout the month, which it voted on Feb. 24 to suspend until the next Municipal election.

With the suspension of committee meetings, council will save $11,700 in 2021. At the time, councillors also had the choice of reducing their regular council meetings and committee of the whole meetings, either down to one of each a month each or simply combing them into a single meeting. Those changes would have saved the town $21,780 or $33,876 respectively.

MacDonald was absent from the meeting due to a family emergency and Solotki said that while she voted in favour of what council finally agreed upon, she though the reduction could go a lot further.

“I feel like in times when we are looking at having to increase taxes, or tighten our belts, we should be leading by example and making the most of our time,” said Solotki.”Whether that means having bigger agendas per meeting to discuss more issues in town, or cutting meetings to cut costs when we can foresee limited need for input.”

Meeting frequencies vary from municipality to municipality. The Hamlet of Tuktoyaktuk has two council meetings each month, whereas Yellowknife holds two “governance and priorities meetings” for every one council meeting, which amounts to six meetings a month. Hay River has two council meetings for every “standing committee,” totaling three meetings a month.

Both MacDonald and Solotki said they would be happier covering the town’s business in one longer meeting.

While MacDonald said he fully intended to run again in the fall, Solotki said the high frequency of council meetings had left her weighing her options, noting the time commitment ate heavily into her other commitments, such as with the fire department.

Solotki added that with 2021 being an election year, she encouraged residents to try their hand at running for council.

“Our current council were acclaimed because not enough people ran to make it a true council race. It would be nice to see more diversity on our council. You don’t need to have any special qualifications beyond residency and to care about our community enough to put in some work, ask questions, respectfully debate with your fellow councillors and show up.

“Talking about what should be done on the Rant and Rave (a popular Inuvik Facebook group) isn’t helpful – putting your name forward to be one of the people who have to make tough decisions is  how change gets made.”

Eric Bowling

Your source for all things happening in the Beaufort Delta. Eric jumped at the chance to write for the Inuvik Drum after cutting his teeth in Alberta. He enjoys long walks, loud music and strong coffee....

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