Pine Strawberry Water Improvement District member Tom Weeks startling discovery that board treasurer Mike Greer has without approval been using a PSWID credit card that almost no one knew existed fueled an explosion of accusations and finger-pointing during last night’s meeting.
Weeks on Thursday told board members and an audience of about 30 water users that while reviewing some district checks he “ran across a credit card statement” on which he noticed Greer had charges of $441 to Bass Pro Shop in Mesa and others to the Native New Yorker restaurant, Home Depot and Ace Hardware.
Weeks said he became suspicious because board members are not authorized to have district cards or make charges.
Also, he added, he suspected other credit card statements might show additional charges.
“There’s an issue here that needs to be resolved,” Weeks said. “I hated to see this day coming.”
Strangely, no one confessed to knowing the card existed until just after board member Don Smith asked, “When and how did Mike get the credit card?”
Almost instantly, a PSWID employee spoke up from the audience saying the card dated back several years ago to when former district general manager Harry Jones temporarily was in charge and the district had just secured its first loan from Compass Bank.
“Harry applied for it,” the woman said.
None of the board members said they knew Greer had the charge card or had used it to charge items to the district.
But even before Weeks made his revelation about the card, Greer addressed the audience. “I want to explain and apologize,” he said. He admitted he had misused the credit card and “put an undue burden on the board.”
However, he said he had already reimbursed the district for all the charges and promised, “It won’t happen again.”
The incident wasn’t the first time Greer had generated controversy.
Just last year, critics raised questions about his involvement in a contract for $80,000 to Hat Creek Electric to install 13 generators at wells in the two towns.
The contracts awarded without competitive bidding went to the firm Greer might have owned at the time. If so, that would have constituted a conflict of interest.
Greer claimed he did not own Hat Creek at the time, but his name was not removed from ACC contractor records until Oct. 24, 2011, two months after Hat Creek landed the contract.
Recently elected board member and longtime district critic Sam Schwalm was among those who questioned the contract due to Greer’s apparent interest in the company.
In the midst of the turmoil over the contract, Schwalm’s watchdog group, Water for Pine Strawberry, asked that Greer resign his seat on the board.
Prior to Greer’s admission he’d used the district credit card and just minutes before Weeks spoke, board chairman Gary Lovetro angrily denounced Weeks for not following district protocol in investigating Greer.
Lovetro insisted Weeks should have come to him first rather than discussing it with district office employees.
Weeks responded that he had a responsibility as a board member to investigate the incident and that he felt “bad I am a part of this board with this kind of stuff going on.”
Lovetro conceded the incident was “very serious … and what Mike did was stupid.”