Meaford Councillor Barb Clumpus arrived at the first council meeting of the year with a bone to pick with her fellow councillors.
Clumpus suggested that a recent decision to terminate the tourism services contract with the Chamber of Commerce violated council's code of conduct and was unethical.
“With the decision at the last meeting of council to prematurely terminate a legally binding contract, I believe council impugned its integrity, its credibility, and it contradicted the corporate objective to assure community health and well-being, and to provide effective leadership and governance,” Clumpus told her fellow councillors. “The termination without cause of the contract to provide services to tourists through a welcome centre is a serious breach of corporate ethics.”
Clumpus said that while the contract with the Chamber included a 90 day termination clause, she believed that terminating the contract was morally and ethically wrong.
“Our partners, our citizens, and ourselves have the right to expect that decisions affecting them will take into consideration the ethical as well as the technical sides in order to make the right decision. The decision to terminate the contract early did not follow that, and it has severely damaged the standing and reputation of this municipality as an honourable, ethical, and credible business partner and employer. It has also destroyed a vital relationship with a long-standing partner and friend to the municipality,” said Clumpus.
Clumpus, who is a former president of Meaford's Chamber of Commerce, suggested that the motivation of her fellow councillors in terminating the contract were personal rather than professional.
“Our code of conduct speaks directly to the abuse of power and position, and the need to avoid personal interest in the impartial performance of duties. The reason this service was out-sourced to a non-profit organization was because it was more cost-effective than having staff deliver the service. A report on this was not made available prior to the vote,” said Clumpus.
Clumpus told council that their actions have rendered contracts with the municipality meaningless.
“This decision was precedent-setting, and has far-reaching consequences and implications. First, it says that contracts with this administration are meaningless if they can be terminated so easily,” suggested Clumpus.
In spite of her plea for councillors to reconsider, Clumpus only found the support of one other councillor, Mike Poetker.
Later in the meeting staff presented their plan for assuming tourism services which will operate out of Meaford Hall, and according to CAO Denyse Morrissey, the municipality will be able provide the service at a lower cost than the contract with the Chamber.
“A number of municipally-owned and -operated facilities were evaluated. The facility which is best suited and the most strategic to incorporate visitor services as an expanded function of their services is Meaford Hall, effective April 1, 2014. Locating these services at this facility is also based on an expanded operation, using a full year comparison of annual hours of service in 2014 compared to 2013 or an increase of about 1,791 hours annually.
“The estimated net reduction in 2014 is $11,250 based on an approved budget of $51,000 with a 2014 first quarter payment to the contract service provider of $12,750. Estimated reduced costs beginning in 2015 are $29,000 annually.
Clumpus made one last attempt to stall a council decision by asking for the issue to be tabled until further discussion and consideration had been undertaken, however she could not find the support of another councillor to second her motion to table. Council approved the recommendation of staff with only councillor Clumpus voting against.
**Correction: When first published this article incorrectly stated that Councillor Mike Potker voted against the staff recommendation. Only Councillor Barb Clumpus voted against. We are sorry for any confusion.