By: Jim Duff June 19,2013
Hudson Mayor Michael Elliott resigned Tuesday for what he says are health and family reasons.
His resignation took effect at 11 a.m. Tuesday morning, leaving Hudson council to elect an interim mayor for the four months until the Nov. 3 municipal elections.
“I’d like to do more, but I’m 72,” Elliott said yesterday evening. “My heart surgeon told me, look, guy, you’ve got to take it easy.”
Elliott, who underwent open-heart surgery last year, has been at the centre of a storm of controversy since the town announced it had called in the Sûreté du Québec to investigate possible fraud at Hudson town hall.
At the June 3 council meeting, it was confirmed that 315 residential and business ratepayers owed $1.2 million in back taxes.
Elliott said he’d heard the rumours that he was among the delinquents. “I’ve paid my back taxes. There was a time 25-30 years ago when I was in financial difficulty and it’s possible [a town employee] covered for me.
“There are a lot of good people having a hard time making ends meet. The town has always bent a little…that’s what makes Hudson.”
What constituted “bending a little?”
“The town charges 24 per cent on taxes owed. That may not be shylocking, but it’s damn close. Perhaps we eased up on the interest. I don’t think that’s wrong.”
Elliott said he’s sorry to go, but it’s not the first time he’s left office.
“When Steve [Shaar] beat me, I went off for 20 years. I have my craft (Elliott is a carpenter and furniture maker), my family and my health.”
He talked about his long relationship with town manager Louise Villandré, whose departure at the end of April precipitated the flood of events that followed. “I’m sad about how things went with Louise. We worked together a long time…maybe we were too dependent on her. If that’s a mistake, I made it.”
A month ago, Elliott told me he was ready to serve another term — his third — because he still has work to do. Tuesday evening, he told me he leaves knowing he and the current council have done their best with what they inherited from previous administrations — getting the fire department under financial control, dealing with the CSST threat to close the firehall by building a new one, Jack Layton Park, Halcro Cottage.
“Council deserves a helluva lot more credit that they’re getting for what they’ve accomplished. I don’t think many of them are going to run again. We leave having done good things.”
Elliott’s lifetime achievement? Hudson’s pesticide bylaw, accomplished with the persistence of Louise Villandré and his first council “There are 187 cities and towns in Canada with pesticide bylaws based on ours.”
He urged the next council to continue with the preservation of Hudson’s architectural heritage, beginning with the restoration of McNaughten Hall, the town hall building. “The money’s there if the town can get what the old Medi-centre is worth.”
“I’m a little bit peeved that I couldn’t continue, but this is still the best little town in Canada.”