The Pine Strawberry Water Improvement District has scheduled a Dec. 6 special meeting, but has not yet posted an agenda and board president Gary Lovetro remains tight-lipped about the reasons for the meeting.
Many water users in the two mountain hamlets suspect the Thursday meeting will focus on the possible resignation of treasurer Mike Greer and the alleged conflict of interest involving board member Tom Weeks, who owns Uncle Tom’s Texaco in Pine from which the district has been making fuel purchases for the past two years. During a Nov. 15 board meeting, Lovetro said the sales represented a conflict of interest.
Weeks, however, says, “I have done nothing wrong.”
Lovetro launched his verbal assault just minutes after Weeks shocked the audience and some board members by telling them that Greer had misused a district Visa card. Greer charged more than $9,000 while submitting no receipts. Greer has since repaid about $2,000 he said he charged by mistake on the wrong card.
Weeks contends that Lovetro’s attack on him was simply a diversionary smoke screen to shift public and board attention away from Greer’s use of the credit card. Weeks says he also expects Lovetro to bring up the alleged conflict of interest at Thursday’s meeting.
While Greer admitted in the Nov. 15 meeting to misusing the card and apologized for doing so, questions immediately arose concerning what other board members signed the district checks to pay the credit card bills and whether any other board members knew about the unauthorized charges.
District regulations require two board members to sign every check.
The Roundup has obtained those payment checks. Most were signed by both board secretary Richard Dickerson and Greer, who serves as the board’s treasurer.
It remains unclear, however, if Dickerson or any other member co-signing the checks actually reviewed the statements.
Greer has reimbursed the district $2,299.33 for personal purchases and contends he spent the rest on legitimate district expenses.
The people calling for Greer’s resignation include Sam Schwalm, a longtime board critic who next month will take a seat on the board, “Mr. Greer needs to resign from the board and spare the PSWID community the cost of a recall.”
Greer has given no indication he will resign.
Although the district hasn’t yet released the agenda, board member Don Smith asked Lovetro to include two items.
The first, “A policy change allowing use of local providers (for services and supplies like gasoline) even if they are board members,” Smith said. “This will not be construed as a conflict of interest because of limited providers in our area.”
Smith says he understands the district might need an attorney general opinion to validate the policy changes.
Also, Smith asked Lovetro to include on Thursday’s agenda a discussion of the role of the board chairman and CH2MHILL, PSWID’s management contractor, in water board affairs.
Smith, a local dentist who has also served on the Pine-Strawberry Fire Board, indicated in the Nov. 15 meeting that he believed Lovetro in the past two years had severely curtailed the input of other board members.