Petrolia politicians reject smaller council for the 2022 election

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Heather Wright/The Independent

Petrolia residents will be voting for six councillors during the next election.

Councillors decided not even to study the idea of reducing council to five people.

Former Mayor John McCharles suggested the idea prior to the 2018 election.
Current Mayor Brad Loosley decided to start the conversation about council’s size, asking council to have staff study the impacts of reducing council to the minimum allowed by the province.

But when the idea came up for discussion Monday, it became clear very quickly councillors were not interested.

Councillor Grant Purdy voiced concern that if a councillor called in sick or had to work, the meeting wouldn’t be able to move forward because there would not be enough people to make decisions.

“I can’t see what we’re going to gain going down to four (councillors),” said Councillor Marty Souch.

Some, like Councillor Joel Field, were torn.

“There are pros and cons both ways; there could be an issue with quorum. Then I weigh out that we are a growing community that has the potential in the next few years to explode,” he says adding that would increase the workload of councillors.

“If it is saving a few thousand dollars maybe but making sure we have the right representation is important, too.”

In 2019, councillors in Petrolia received a base pay of $13,338.02 a year. They can also claim expenses for conferences and mileage. They also can tap into the town’s health plan. On average, that bumps up taxpayers costs for representation about $3,300 per year.

Only one councillor filed no expenses and received the minimum payment last year – Wade Deighton.

In all, the cost to taxpayers for the mayor and council’s salaries and expenses was $134,982.33.