Council may have a tough decision coming up regarding Councillor Colleen Tatum.
After news broke Thursday that Tatum had initially failed to pay her 2015 taxes, citizens have lined up both in support of the embattled councillor and against. Two petitions have been started, one calling on council to remove her from office while another calls for her to stay on.
According to the Local Authorities Election Act section 22(1) c, a person is not eligible for candidacy if “the person is indebted to the municipality… in default exceeding $50.” Add to that Section 174(1) b of the Municipal Governance Act, which notes that any councillor found ineligible under the LAEA is disqualified from sitting on council. The MGA calls for that councillor to resign, but that’s where the RMWB council’s conundrum comes in.
Tatum has said she will not step down, saying it wouldn’t be in the public’s best interests to have an expensive by-election. The councillor has now repaid her taxes, and is pointing to a similar situation in Red Deer where a councillor was allowed to continue their duties.
Council will now have to vote on whether they will file a court application to have a judge rule on Tatum’s case.
Those calling for Tatum’s removal are arguing that the MGA cannot be violated without punishment, no matter how light Tatum’s violation may be. The other side is pointing to Tatum’s commitment to the community, and to the Red Deer case.
Fort McMurray Matters on Monday, March 14th will feature an interview with Councillor Tatum about the situation. To hear it you can tune into Mix 103.7fm at noon on Monday, or listen online.