The City Council has formally accepted the resignation of a City Council member and expects to name a replacement by April 12.
The resignation of Councilwoman Phyllis Southwick was accepted by council members Barbara Holt Harold Shafter and Keith Barton. Councilman Robert Gramoll abstained. Southwick was not at the meeting.Gramoll abstained because he did not believe a vote on the matter was necessary. He said state law governing council vacancies indicate that Southwick's resignation was effective March 8 when she submitted it to Mayor Dean Stahle. Southwick said she resigned to spend more time with her family.
"There is no indication in that statute (that the council) . . . must accept the resignation," Gramoll said. "If we can agree for whatever reason it did occur on the eighth, then I would say that there is no valid reason - nothing in the law - that says the council shall accept her resignation. Our position as a council is to fill that vacancy as expeditiously as we can."
Controversy has surrounded Southwick's resignation after the public learned the resignation was received by Stahle on March 8, but Holt and Gramoll did not learn about it until March 19 and 20. Stahle has defended himself against charges that he was intentionally keeping the resignation secret, branding them "poppycock."
"I would like to avoid the argument whether it is accepted or not accepted because Mrs. Southwick, in all good faith, has expressed her desire to no longer be on the council. In view of that expression I think we ought to honor her request," Gramoll said.
He said he believed that some legal questions might be raised if the council did not act April 7 - 30 days after Southwick's resignation.
Layne Forbes, Bountiful City attorney, said that conditional language in Southwick's resignation letter would make the resignation effective when accepted by the council, however.
"Much of the case law throughout the country dealing with this subject, particularly where there is conditional resignation requesting that it be accepted, then I think the vacancy occurs when it is in fact accepted and you go from that point on," Forbes said.
The council first discussed the resignation in a public meeting a week ago, but took no action. One reason the council had failed to act on the resignation a week ago was because the council had wanted to know if Southwick had a preference for her replacement. Stahle said he had talked to her during the week and said she had no recommendation.
Under a motion from Holt, the council unanimously approved a process for Southwick's replacement to be chosen. The council officially declared a vacancy on the council and will now consider any who apply for the position.