Councillor says no to single-tier government 0
Grey County council reaffirmed Tuesday its decision to examine the pros and cons of turning the county into one single-tier government, but at least one councillor says the discussion should not even happen.
Grey Highlands Deputymayor Paul McQueen said his municipality has already notified the county that it is not even interested in exploring the idea. He said he had hoped to put the discussion to bed at Tuesday's meeting.
"Is big government better? Not always," McQueen said in an interview.
Larger municipalities lead to more "layers of bureaucracy," he said, and municipal amalgamation about a dozen years ago proved it does not always yield savings.
"If you lose that lower-tier, you're going to lose that connection to your people," he said.
Grey County council has created a governance task force to examine options for political change.
The group's mandate is wide-ranging and includes looking at the length of the warden's term, the size of county council, addit i o na l ways the county and lower-tier municipalities can collaborate to save money and the possible amalgamation of Grey-Bruce.
But it's the directive related to municipal restructuring --specifically the discussion around eliminating lower-tier municipal boundaries and turning the county into one single-tier government --that has generated the most debate around the council table.
A work plan, approved by council in February, directed the task force to, in part, evaluate the "two-tier structure of governance up to and including a single-tier model."
Council was asked to reaffirm its approval of the work plan and OK an amendment that the task force prepare a discussion paper "outlining the advantages and disadvantages of alternative governance models (i. e. consolidation of lower tiers, current two-tier system, single tier, merging with adjoining county) before commissioning a full study and report.
The motion passed.
Before the vote, McQueen suggested he intended to move a motion to eliminate the single-tier governance discussion from the work plan.
He backed away after Warden Duncan McKinlay said re-examining the already approved plan would require two-thirds support from county councillors.
"I'm not trying to subvert anyone from having an opinion but I'm trying to be clear: what's before us today is a motion that offers a modification of a previously adopted document of this county council," McKinlay said.
Hanover Mayor Kathi Maskell, chairwoman of the governance task force, said councillors will have a chance to vote on continuing the single-tier discussion after the discussion paper is presented but before a full study and report is prepared.
"When we get to 2013, if we're fast in our work, and we get to that final step, you're going to have a chance to confirm whether or not we're going to do that study. You're going to get a chance then to say, whoa hold it, we've done this and this and this and that is as far as we want to go," she said.
A "triple majority" would be needed to alter the county's governance model, according to county clerk Sharon Vokes. That means it would need to be approved by a majority of county councillors and the majority of lower-tier councils (5 of 9) that have "a majority of electors within the upper tier."