Staffing controversy, leadership vacuum resolved
© Photo by Terry Roberts/The Compass
Ross Dawe is now mayor of the Town of Cupids.
The embattled Cupids town council will have a new person at the helm for the final eight months of its four-year term.
Ross Dawe was appointed mayor during a regular meeting of council on Tuesday, Feb. 5, ending a temporary leadership vacuum created when former mayor Ron Laracy unexpectedly resigned from council on Jan. 29.
Council also appears to have resolved a staffing issue that was threatening to hurl the town of some 760 residents into chaos, both from an administrative and maintenance perspective.
The longtime town clerk had tendered her resignation late last month, and the maintenance employee, who is also responsible for snowclearing, was also threatening to quit.
The dispute revolved around a proposed pay increase that was rejected by a majority of councillors at a privileged meeting last month.
Faced with the loss of its two employees, council convened an emergency meeting on Friday, Feb. 1 and agreed to offer both a $1 per hour wage increase.
The increase was accepted by both employees, and they have agreed to stay on the job.
The pay increase was ratified during Tuesday’s public meeting.
The town has also been hobbled by financial difficulties, and was unable to make its final payment of $52,000 in 2012 to pay off the long-term debt. The escalating cost of maintenance for the backhoe, garbage truck and snowplow truck is also squeezing the town’s limited coffers.
To illustrate this, councillors were observed during Tuesday’s meeting, sifting through a long list of invoices and designating those that were a priority for payment, while deferring others.
“We don’t have the cash to pay them all,” said Mayor Dawe.
The town clerk noted this was “normal” for this time of year, since tax invoices to residents and businesses have only recently been distributed.
Dawe, meanwhile, was deputy mayor, and became acting mayor following Laracy’s departure.
Harold Akerman replaces Dawe as deputy mayor.
Both were elected by acclamation during a meeting attended by only four of the six remaining members of council. Also in attendance were councillors Kevin Connolly and Doug Furey, while Christine Burry and Harvey Puddister were absent.
Four is the minimum number of councillors that can be present in order to make the proceedings of the meeting valid.
Council will finish out its term with a vacancy, with provincial municipal elections scheduled for Sept. 24.