Faced with a November recall election following charges of mismanagement, Camp Verde Sanitary District Board member Al Dupuy defended his board’s actions last week.
Dupuy and Board Chairman Rob Witt are the focus of a recall initiated by a grassroots citizens group unhappy with the direction the board has taken and their heavily increased tax bills paying for a sewer expansion project.
Dupuy said he’s willing to work with anyone who has ideas on how to help the sanitary district, including the Sanitary District Fairness Group, the organization responsible for the recall.
Both Dupuy and Witt offered a vacant seat on the board to the opposition group’s president, James Strava, and vice president, Bill Mitton.
Mitton turned it town due to other obligations, Dupuy said.
Strava said he believed he could help the board if he took the seat, but declined citing personal reasons that don’t allow him the time needed to serve as a board member.
Strava said that he also is planning to take a less active role in the leadership of the Sanitary District Fairness Group in the coming months, and offered his support to anyone who could step up and aggressively pursue the group’s objectives.
The recall petition listed seven complaints against Dupuy and Witt.
Dupuy said he was worried that some members of the public have painted him as a man who doesn’t care about the tax burden on district.
In a public statement last week he answered the charges one by one.
? Abuse of tax levy authority.
Dupuy said that as a special taxing district, the sanitary district has the authority under state law to enter into an agreement with a private entity for the construction of a sewage collection system and wastewater treatment plant.
The Fairness Group has expressed concerns over a $6 million private loan obtained by the district last year that leaves district members with the bill.
? Failure to disclose future tax levies during the budget process.
Dupuy said all budget decisions and financial agreements were discussed in public meetings, as was the $6 million loan.
“The board has always been upfront that certain taxes will need to go up,” Dupuy said. “Unfortunately, no one can predict exactly where they will go.”
? Inappropriate allocation of district assets.
Dupuy said that to the best of his knowledge, the district’s funds are being used to complete the $15 million sewer expansion project.
? Inadequate record keeping and financial reporting.
Dupuy said that other than a few minor issues, a recent audit of the district found no serious problems with the board’s financial reporting and no evidence of intentionally mishandling funds.
The audit confirmed that the district’s books were in the clear, noting a few issues with internal controls over handling finances.
? Unauthorized destruction of public records.
Dupuy said that if the complaint was concerning the destruction of tapes after meeting minutes were transcribed, the Arizona Attorney General’s Office had already talked with the board about the issue.
Dupuy said the tapes were used to help record the minutes of meetings, and to his knowledge, the district no longer destroys any tapes.
? Withholding meeting minutes and other public records.
Dupuy said that, to his knowledge, the district has always allowed public records requests. He pointed to one instance where the minutes of a five-and-a-half-hour meeting were not recorded within 72 hours, and the attorney general considered it a “blip on the radar.”
“In other words, [the sanitary district] has a good record with minutes and public record compliance,” Dupuy said.
? Failure to keep the public properly informed of district business.
Dupuy said that the board holds public meetings every month, and that at most of those there are television cameras and newspaper reporters present.
“The decision to build a larger plant and increase taxes has always been done in public,” Dupuy said.
Dupuy also directly addressed personal criticism against his role on the sanitary district board.
“There is a perception that I personally don’t care about the burden the tax increases have put on the people within the district, but this is simply not true,” Dupuy said. “I am willing to listen to any and all suggestions that will help reduce our taxes. I am willing to work for and with district members that are willing to offer positive suggestions to improve our current situation.”