Trustee signing off, no election in sight

The man who steered Dawson City through almost two council-less years, plans to step down from his post later this month.

The man who steered Dawson City through almost two council-less years, plans to step down from his post later this month.

Ray Hayes was appointed Dawson City trustee by Glenn Hart, who fired the debt-ridden town’s mayor and council in April 2004.

Last week, Hayes announced that March 31 will mark his final day navigating the town through its bankruptcy.

“After giving this a lot of thought, I advised the minister that my contract expires at the end of March,” said Hayes.

“There’s an option for renewal, but I will not be exercising that option.”

Hayes’ decision was expected, said Hart.

“He’s indicated to us previously that his term is up in March and he’d like to end it there,” said Hart.

There was no ultimatum, said both Hart and Hayes.

“It wasn’t an ultimatum,” said Hayes. “I just can’t think of circumstances where I would issue an ultimatum to (Hart) to call an election or I quit.”

Over the past two years there’s been a good working relationship, said Hart.

“We’re really happy with his performance to date,” he said.

“He stayed long after the original time we had looked at. I think that’s something that’s really important.”

However, Hayes’ is tired of piloting Dawson through its fiscal nightmare.

It’s time to move on, he said.

“From my perspective, I’ve done everything I can do to get things to the point of having an election,” said Hayes.

“I see no benefit in me staying.”

This is the plan, anyway.

But, if Dawson residents head to the polls before the end of March, Hayes has offered to stay on through the transition.

“Provided that it wasn’t for a long period of time,” he added.

“But I was not staying on unless there was a definite end in sight.”

So, Dawson would have to have an election before March 31.

Is such a thing possible?

Currently, the department is investigating its financial and legal obligations for calling an election, said Hart.

“We’re dealing with the Municipal Act and what we can do and what we can’t do and that sort of thing,” he said.

Under the territory’s Municipal Act, towns cannot carry more than a specific debt load, which is based on its tax revenues.

Dawson’s finances had to be brought in line with this part of the act before an election could be called.

For now, the city will continue to run as it has for the past 23 months.

“We’re paying the bills, we’re meeting all of our obligations,” said Hayes.

“We’re carrying all of the duties of a municipality, providing basic services.”

What’s next for Dawson?

“We’re checking into the situation and examining our options,” said Hart.

This could mean calling an election or finding a new city trustee.

“We’ll have to have somebody in there, that’s a given,” he said.

There are already a few possible candidates, he added.

With his term coming to a fast close, Hayes said the message from the Klondike is clear.

“The people of Dawson are anxious to get on with life and have an election,” he said.

“And I support that.”

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