Vehicle use under scrutiny, clothing allowance axed

MORRISBURG – Some long-standing practices may be coming to an end for South Dundas municipal employees.

At the January 3rd committee of the whole meeting, South Dundas council reviewed the personnel policy and council expressed an interest in improving some of the perks afforded to municipal staff while getting rid of other perks.

Driving municipal vehicles to and from work, excluding those who are on-call, is a practice that South Dundas deputy mayor Kirsten Gardner would like to see stopped.

South Dundas treasurer and chief administrative officer Shannon Geraghty said that for those who do, it’s a taxable benefit.

“It should not be done, regardless of it being a taxable benefit,” said Gardner, explaining the benefit is only to that person and to another level of government.

“South Dundas municipal residents are seeing no benefit from it – and that’s a problem,” she said.

South Dundas councillor Archie Mellan accused the rest of the group of trying to do too much micro-managing of staff while they were discussing the number and use of municipal vehicles.

“I agree with you Archie,” said South Dundas councillor Donald Lewis.

“All we’re doing is asking the questions,” said South Dundas councillor Lloyd Wells.

South Dundas has about 13 publicly-owned, South Dundas-branded pick-up trucks, that often draw the attention of the public.

“We’re elected. We owe it to our residents to have these discussions,” said Gardner.

“I think people have too much time on their hands, if this is what they’re worried about,” said Mellan.

“Council is just tying to find ways to be more efficient,” said South Dundas mayor Steven Byvelds. “Having these discussions is not a bad thing to do.”

“Our responsibility is to make sure our resources are well-used,” said Byvelds.

Another perk that council would like to see eliminated is the $300 annual staff clothing allowance.

Gardner said that she has never seen a clothing allowance like this anywhere. “Residents shouldn’t be paying for that,” she said.

Safety clothing and equipment will continue to be provided by the municipality, as council was adamant that safety is a top priority.

While council agreed that they want to see the employee clothing allowance gone, they also agree that they would also like to increase the safety boot allowance to $150 from $100, and to increase the allowance for glasses from $250 to $300.

The policy will be amended to reflect the changes discussed and will be presented at a regular council meeting for official approval before the changes come into effect.