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Rideau Lakes councillor requests another vote on her own pay suspension

Councillor Paula Banks. – Laurie Weir photo

A Rideau Lakes councillor who was investigated in January and February by the integrity commissioner for violating the municipality’s Code of Conduct wants members to vote again on a recommended pay suspension.

Coun. Paula Banks acknowledged the breach of the violations and agreed with the commissioner’s recommendation of a 21-day suspension of pay, but when it came time to vote on the matter, council ended with a tie – or a defeated vote.

“I acted outside the Code of Conduct,” she said in her apology on April 2. “I’m most disappointed in myself for using profanity and bullying language. I was in the wrong and bullying for any reason is not OK … I promise to do better and make sure that it doesn’t happen again.”

But when it came time to vote, one councillor was absent, and neither Banks, nor her husband, Coun. Jeff Banks could vote. Coun. Ron Pollard is recovering from broken ribs, according to Mayor Arie Hoogenboom, and was not at the council meeting. Councillors Joan Delaney and Marcia Maxwell, along with the mayor, voted in support of the recommendation, while councillors Sue Dunfield and Deborah Anne Hutchings voted against it. Deputy Mayor Linda Carr abstained from voting, which resulted in a tie.

During the April 8 meeting of the municipal services committee, Banks asked if council could revote on the issue and wanted to bring this forward to a future meeting.

She said she agreed with the recommendation and offered on April 2 to give the recommended pay suspension as a donation to the township.

According to the report by integrity commissioner William Hunter, Banks breached several sections of the Code of Conduct, including general principles to refrain from engaging in conduct that would bring the municipality or council into disrepute or compromise the integrity of the municipality or council. All members of council are expected to conduct themselves with decorum with respect for deputations and for fellow members, and staff requires that all members show courtesy and not distract from the business of council during presentations and when other members have the floor. All members of council shall treat members of the public, one another and staff appropriately and without abuse, bullying or intimidation.

“A suspension of remuneration penalty can serve as a deterrent and send a message to Councillor P. Banks and others that compliance with the Code of Conduct is the standard expected of the municipality’s elected representatives. I therefore recommend that there be a suspension of the remuneration paid to Councillor P. Banks in respect her services as a member of council for a period of 21 days,” Hunter wrote.

Staff will work on a new motion to bring forward to a future council meeting for another vote.

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