‘A big weight off our shoulders’: Sayward passes budget amidst council dysfunction

'A big weight off our shoulders': Sayward passes budget amidst council dysfunction
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The Village of Sayward is pictured.

“A big weight has been lifted off our shoulders.”

That was Sayward Mayor Mark Baker commenting Thursday afternoon after an emergency meeting at 6:45 a.m. to give fourth and final reading to the new budget.

As municipal politics go, annual budgets may not be exciting, but they sure are important.

They approve the funds needed to operate for another year and let residents and businesses know how much it’ll cost them.

But the Village of Sayward was a day late.

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“Municipal Affairs is probably very happy as well,” Baker added, referring to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs. “Our advisor, Brian Carruthers, did an excellent job getting us to this point and thank God it’s done.”

Baker says the Ministry won’t levy a penalty, so it’s business as usual. That is, as much as it can be here after years of dysfunction and councilors resigning.

Even on Monday when council met to give the first three readings of the budget, Baker said he’d had enough and walked out.

“It was a special council meeting strictly on budget and because it’s 2 to 1, (2 councilors and 1 mayor) there’s only three of us that remain, they brought an introduction into late items on two items that should not have been on the agenda and they would not let it go, so the only choice I had was to walk out,” he said.

Councilor Tom Tinsley resigned last week and Coun. Kohen Gilkin quit in March, citing turmoil and a toxic atmosphere around the table.

By-elections are now scheduled for July 20 to fill those seats.

“Are these personality issues, are they just fundamental differences on how things should be run?” Baker was asked.

“It’s personality issues. Straight up,” he replied.

The village requested help from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and a special advisor has been assisting council with it’s issues.

“So there’s a lot of projects coming down the pipeline that you want your council to be united on and be able to work together,” Baker added. “And never mind that, you don’t want the provincial government when there’s grants available, to go, ‘oh it’s Sayward,’ right, in a bad light. You want to be able to get that support from the provincial government and the federal government so it’s in our best interests to work together as one.”

He hopes two new like-minded people will be elected on July 20.

As for the budget passed Thursday morning, it’ll see an eight per cent increase in taxes for residents.

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