Richmond to post expenses on-line, broadcast more meetings

ARICHAT: Richmond County residents will soon get a closer look at the activities and expense claims of their municipal councillors and municipal staff, as the result of two motions unanimously approved by councillors at their latest regular monthly meeting.

The municipality is now officially preparing to regularly post the expense claims of all councillors and municipal staff on the official municipal Web site: www.richmondcounty.ca. While no such postings were available as of January 6, Richmond Warden Brian Marchand is confident that municipal council and staff will soon decide on the proper format for these on-line posts.

“[Expenses will go up] early in the New Year, after we’ve decided what the postings are going to look like, then we’ll have some staff that will be gathering the information,” Marchand told The Reporter following the December 22 council meeting in Arichat.

“Will it be every month that they do that, every two months, every three months? We’ll decide that in the New Year.”

Noting that the posted expenses will date back to November 1, 2016, Marchand said he was “very pleased” to see council unanimously approve this motion and predicted that the move would spur more discussion on proper council procedure in the wake of a year-long debate over questionable expense filings by previous councillors and staff.

“More questions will come from it, I’m sure,” Marchand suggested.

As well, councillors voted 4-0 to provide the necessary funds to allow Telile Community Television to broadcast council’s Committee-of-the-Whole meetings, in addition to the regular council sessions already broadcast by the Arichat-based service. The municipality will commit $1,000 per month over the coming year to enable Telile to broadcast both meetings, which each take place on a monthly basis with the exceptions of July and August.

District 2 councillor Alvin Martell had requested the Committee-of-the-Whole broadcasts in November, suggesting that some Richmond County residents feel that the discussions leading to official council decisions are not receiving proper air time and that municipal legislation is seen by many to be simply “rubber-stamped” when it comes up for a formal vote.

Richmond council’s Committee-of- the-Whole meetings are open to the public and usually take place on the second Monday of each month. The next Committee-of-the-Whole meeting is scheduled for Monday, January 9 at 7 p.m. in the Richmond Municipal Building in Arichat, while this month’s regular council meeting will take place Monday, January 23 at 7 p.m. in the same venue.