Friday, September 9, 2016

Letter to Clearwater County Council

Clearwater County Taxpayers’ Association
c/o Marianne Cole
RR #1 
Rocky Mountain House, AB  T4T 2A1

September 6, 2016

Clearwater County Council
Box 550
Rocky Mountain House, AB  T4T 1A4

Dear _________________________:
At the July 14th meeting of the CCTA, a concern was brought forward regarding the short amount of time before council meetings that agenda packages are made available either to council or on the county’s website.
Discussion focussed on the following rationale for increasing the lead time:
  • Taxpayers need to know the items on the agenda in order to be able to express an opinion to either their individual councillor or council as a whole.
  • Councillors need to have adequate time to peruse the agenda, do research if necessary, and develop an opinion on matters to be discussed.
  • Councillors should have adequate time to confer with constituents.
The suggestion was then made that we contact neighboring jurisdictions as to the timeline upon which they operate regarding agendas and meetings.  After contacting Brazeau, Ponoka, Lacombe, and Red Deer counties we learned that the standard operating procedure for distributing agendas in advance of meetings is approximately one week.  If meetings are on Tuesday, agendas are out the previous Wednesday; if meetings are on Thursday, agendas are out the previous Friday. 
Some notable comments from discussion with the other jurisdictions were:
  • I would be offended if I didn’t get it in enough time; ratepayers and councillors both suffer.
  • After I get the agenda I try to get into the local coffee group to see what they have to say about the issues.
  • If you just go by what administration recommends without doing your own research and thinking, why do you need elected officials?

One of the recent goals noted by Clearwater County council was to improve citizen engagement, and increasing the agenda lead time would assist in addressing that goal.
In conclusion, we ask that council develop a policy which stipulates a greater amount of lead time in which agenda packages are made available prior to council meetings.  We suggest that this lead time be a minimum of one week and that this policy even extend to all committees of council.
We would be happy to discuss this matter with you and look forward to your reply.
Yours truly,

Marianne Cole

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