Opinion

Charter makes deadline for councilors to pay taxes clear

To the editor:

When the charter commission put together a new charter in 2011, one of the new rules was the stipulation that a councilor’s property taxes had to be paid on or before Dec. 31 of the previous year.

I didn’t agree with that rule because I felt that there could be extenuating circumstances preventing a person from paying his/her taxes on time. I was told that councilors set policy and therefore should be above reproach. 

The fact that the charter was going to be voted on as a whole bothered me, because it didn’t give the voters the opportunity to decide on the rules individually.

In 2013, that rule went back to referendum giving the voters a chance to remove it, but it failed 671 to 435. A few months ago, the mayor brought it up again, and the consensus was, myself included, to send it back to the voters this November, but for some reason, it never happened.

So, the rule stands. Under Sec. 2.06, (6) forfeiture of office, it states that a councilor will forfeit his/her office if he/she “fails to pay all annual personal and real property taxes on or before December 31st of the previous year”.  Nothing obscure, the intent is clear.

Councilor [Doug] Morrell paid his taxes at approximately 5:55 p.m. on Jan. 2, 2020, just before the meeting was to begin. I walked into council chambers at 5:45 p.m. and asked if he had paid his taxes and was told that he had not.

I am not splitting hairs here. I am simply following the rules of the charter, which also states that any councilor who doesn’t follow the charter is subject to forfeiturel. We have a charter. We either follow it or work to change it, but we don’t ignore or circumvent it just to see if we can get away with it.

How simple it would have been for him to pay his taxes on Dec. 31, 2019, instead of seeing how far he could push the envelope.  

Joan Theriault
Caribou

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