Carbonear council says decision to remove mayor was difficult but necessary

A statement from the Town of Carbonear says lawyers advised they were obliged to declare the mayor's seat vacant.

Council voted to remove newly-elected Frank Butt over the demolition of a building near his property

Carbonear town council voted Tuesday to declare Mayor Frank Butt's seat vacant over a conflict of interest issue stemming back to 2014. (Town of Carbonear)

The Town of Carbonear says removing Frank Butt as mayor wasn't easy but — based on advice from a town lawyer — had to be done.

The day after council voted to declare Butt's seat vacant, the town issued a statement explaining that it received a copy of a letter sent to the provincial municipal affairs minister in September, alleging Butt was in a conflict of interest for voting in 2014 on the demolition of a building on Water Street near property he owns.

Butt was a councillor at the time. The building was subsequently taken down a year later.

"Council agrees that the building was an eyesore and had to be removed," says the statement, but as the demolition of a dilapidated building near Butt's property had the potential to benefit him financially — in increased property value — town lawyers advised Butt shouldn't have voted on the motion.

The Town of Carbonear says vacating Mayor Frank Butt's seat was difficult but necessary. (Princess Sheila Na Geira Theatre)

Because he did, the statement said, council was obligated, under Section 207 of the provincial Municipalities Act, to remove him from the position.

"Our lawyer's opinion was that it would be reasonable to infer/conclude that Councillor Butt did have a monetary interest in the matter and council is obliged under the Act to declare Councillor Butt's seat vacant."

In a Facebook post Tuesday night, Butt said he was disappointed in the decision, and questioned the validity of the letter, which was sent anonymously.

"The fact remains that Councillor Frank Butt made and voted on the motion," says the statement.

"We feel this is an unfortunate situation. Frank has the option to appeal council's decision to an appeals court and we respect his right to do so and wish him all the best."