By Tara de Ryk
DUNDURN — Concerns over road maintenance, taxation, expenditures, transparency and alleged conflicts of interest were aired at a Jan. 16 ratepayers meeting for the Rural Municipality of Dundurn.
The meeting was called by RM council to address questions circulating in the community about some of council’s recent decisions. It was the first such meeting held in the RM in recent years and it was well attended with about 100 people filling the Dundurn Community Hall.
Reeve Trevor Reid spent about 20 minutes informing the crowd of major issues and projects the RM had handled last year. He then opened the meeting to questions from the floor.
Ratepayers asked about recent expenditures including $230,000 spent on trucks and potential conflict of interest after council decided to buy the vehicles from Saskatoon Truck Centre, a business owned by Div. 2 councillor Louis Paquette.
Ratepayer Andy Olson questioned whether the municipality consulted other companies or considered putting out a call for tenders. He also wanted to know if Coun. Paquette had declared a conflict of interest and left the room, as the meeting minutes do not mention this.
Ratepayer Iver Johnson called for Paquette’s resignation.
“I don’t care how you stack it, what kind of spin you put on it. He should be resigning and made (to) leave immediately,” Johnson said. “Nowhere in those minutes does it say Lou excused himself and declared an interest.”
Reid said he would have to look into the minutes and see.
Coun. Paquette did not attend the ratepayers meeting. When reached for comment Thursday afternoon, Paquette said, “I wasn’t there to defend myself.”
Asked if he’d declared a conflict of interest, he said, “Absolutely I declare a conflict,” adding that when anything comes before council concerning his business, “I just leave the room.”
Ratepayer Glen Cline suggested that council meeting minutes contain more detail. He read a motion from the February 2017 meeting that said: “that the RM purchase a 2015 truck.”
Cline continued, “This is one (motion) I was most surprised with,” referring to a motion to pay five months’ rental on a storage unit located on the northeast of 31-34-43.
“I look at that motion and I don’t know how any councillor sitting here could vote on a motion that vague,” Cline said, pointing out the motion doesn’t say to whom or how much rent would be paid. Nor did the motion give a specific land location despite the fact the section of land in question is subdivided.
“If you’re going to continue to make motions like this without a lot of content you’re going to have ratepayers like me asking you questions. I want to see way more content in these motions.”
“We will definitely improve on those minutes,” Reid said, explaining that council decided to rent the storage bay in the north end for one of its road graders.
“We contemplated a shop facility in the north end for one of our graders. The north end consumes one whole grader non stop,” Reid said. To improve efficiency and save the 45-minute, one-way commute time from the RM’s shop in Dundurn to the north end as well as saving wear and tear on the machinery of the municipality, Reid said council decided to try parking a grader there permanently.
Reid said the grader was parked at a shop owned by an RM councillor. The RM paid $2,000 a month for interim rent. He said the bay beside it rents for $3,500.
“We did it for four to five months and determined it was a very viable alternative,” Reid said.
For the full story, please see the Jan. 22 edition of The Davidson Leader or call 306-567-2047 to subscribe today.