Shantz was served a notice of default by the township Wednesday afternoon.
The move comes less than a week after a Municipal Election Compliance Audit Committee (MECAC) decision to dismiss an application by Elmira resident Alan Marshall for a review of Shantz’s election filing.
Shantz acknowledged her original expense report was inaccurate, submitting a new, audited statement to the committee. With that, MECAC members saw no need for an additional audit, dismissing Marshall’s application.
Marshall argued, however, that the act was clear in stating that Shantz was in default by failing to submit the proper paperwork before the deadline, filing additional claims with the township and the audit committee in the days following the hearing. That prompted Woolwich to seek out legal advice, culminating in the notice of default served July 8.
“At last week’s MECAC hearing, Mayor Shantz submitted an audit reflecting campaign finances in excess of $10,000. In light of the strict wording in the Municipal Elections Act, and given that the audit was not filed by the March 27, 2015 deadline set out in the act, Mayor Shantz is technically in default of the Municipal Elections Act,” said township clerk Val Hummel in an email statement about the notice sent to Shantz.
“The township’s legal representation has been advised by the solicitor representing Mayor Shantz that they intend to make an application before the Superior Court to allow Mayor Shantz to remain in office. Reflecting that this matter will be before the court, the status of the office of mayor for the Township of Woolwich will be determined by a Superior Court judge at an as yet to be determined date.”
This is the same recourse to the courts pursed by Ward 2 Coun. Mark Bauman, who was temporarily removed from council in May for failing to file an expense report after being acclaimed to his seat. As in that instance, the township will not be taking a position in the legal proceedings.
In the meantime, Shantz has stepped aside from her duties as mayor. Coun. Patrick Merlihan is the acting mayor for July, while Coun. Larry Shantz will fill those duties in August.
“The process will be similar to what Mark went through,” Shantz said in an interview Wednesday evening, adding a court date was still pending. “Hopefully, it’s not too much longer.”
She said she’s hoping for a similar outcome to Bauman’s case, where the judge reinstated the councillor within minutes, noting the issue was a technicality.
“The act is being reviewed, and it needs to be reviewed,” said Shantz of the lack of provision for such cases in the current Municipal Elections Act, a situation Marshall brought to light. “It’s such a misuse of time and resources. And a misuse of the courts.”
Shantz says she’s resigned herself to following the process, nonetheless – “it is the way it is.”
For his part, Marshall said the courts will find plenty of fault with the mayor’s expense reports if it really looks into the matter.
“On the other hand if it’s a Mark Bauman-style ‘trial’ with nobody opposing the mayor, then she will skate,” he said in an email.