Open Municipal Government Toolkit – Policies and Procedures
Establishing procedures or processes is another way that a municipality can demonstrate its commitment to the principles of open government. These procedures and processes may be incorporated into a municipal policy. Policies provide guidance to Council and staff when carrying out duties on behalf of residents.
By making these documents available to the public, citizens and taxpayers are informed about your municipality’s policies and procedures. Best practice indicates that all policies should be shared with the public by posting them on your municipal website.
The Town of Stratford website includes all municipal policies.
Once in place, there will be a public expectation that these policies will be consistently implemented. By making decisions in accordance with the municipality’s policy, Council and staff decisions will be consistent and transparent.
It is required that all municipalities have a procedural bylaw within 12 months of the act coming into force. The Government of Prince Edward Island has provided a sample procedural bylaw. This bylaw regulates the proceedings of council, and is very important in both setting down the rules by which council operates, in ensuring that the best interests of the public will be maintained, and that the principles of accountability, engagement and transparency are upheld.
Remuneration Bylaw and Travel Expense Policy
The Department of Communities, Land and Environment has prepared a model remuneration bylaw in accordance with section 82 of the Municipal Government Act. This sample bylaw establishes the types, rates and conditions of remuneration made to council members or council committee members. The purpose of the Remuneration Bylaw is to ensure that council members, and individuals serving on municipal committees, are reasonably remunerated and that their remuneration is equitable. Schedule A of the model Remuneration Bylaw outlines reimbursement rates for mileage and meals.
The Travel Expense Policy provides additional requirements regarding acceptable expenses as well as procedures for travel approval and expense claims. The City of Summerside shares annual meeting and travel expenses paid to council members.
Records relating to compensation, expenses and other payments paid to council members must available for public inspection. As a best practice, these records should be routinely disclosed by sharing them on your municipality’s website.
The purpose of a Notice Policy is to outline how Council will give notice to the public. One way of acting transparently is to provide the public with opportunities to provide representation and comment.
Under the Municipal Government Act, Council is required to publish a schedule of Council and committee meetings. The Planning Act contains requirements related to planning notices. However, Council may wish to inform and solicit input from the public on other issues.