Halifax councillor apologizes to staffer after budget debate diss
Halifax Armdale Coun. Shawn Cleary appeared to call for a staffer's job during a debate on the municipality's budget process.
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A Halifax regional councillor apologized to a municipal staffer during a meeting on Tuesday after he appeared to call for his job.
Councillors were debating a motion about multi-year budget planning on Tuesday when Coun. Shawn Cleary took issue with language in a report that he felt aimed to reduce council’s oversight.
The clause at issue was included in a list of benefits to the multi-year process: “Reduces the non-value time spent scrutinizing individual (business unit) budgets year over year.”
“I’m going to say, whoever put in that looking at our budget and scrutinizing it is ‘non-value time,’ shouldn’t be working for us. Full stop,” Cleary said.
The staffer who wrote the report, finance manager Ed Thornhill, left the meeting shortly after.
Coun. Bill Karsten called on Cleary to apologize.
“It’s the gentleman who wrote the report that I feel bad for, because quite frankly, I don’t know if anyone noticed, but he stormed out of the room,” Karsten said.
During a break in the meeting, Cleary told reporters he wasn’t singling out any staffer.
After the break, he apologized to Thornhill.
“Upon reflection, it was rather harsh of me and I meant no disrespect to our hardworking finance staff,” he said.
Council voted down staff’s motion to approve the operating budgets for fiscal 2018 that they approved during last year’s budget process.
Though CAO Jacques Dubé said it made no difference, council voted in favour of an alternative motion to continue operating budget presentations to council’s committee of the whole.