Pine-Strawberry Water Improvement District treasurer Mike Greer charged more than $9,000 during the past year to a PSWID credit card, according to documents supplied in response to a Payson Roundup Freedom of Information request.
The documents included many questionable charges, but board president Gary Lovetro declined comment on specific charges, leaving many questions unanswered.
In an interview on Monday, Greer said he or his own company employees sometimes mistakenly used the district credit card rather than his own. He said he regretted the incident and the stress it put on the board.
Earlier in a Nov. 15 board meeting, Greer admitted that he used the Visa card inappropriately just minutes before fellow member Tom Weeks shocked the audience by revealing he had come across charges that he believed were not district related.
Among those questionable charges Weeks pointed out was $441 to Bass Pro Shop, another to Native New Yorker restaurant in Show Low and others.
After being confronted by Weeks at the board meeting, Greer expressed regret saying “it will never happen again.”
Lovetro called Greer’s use of the card both “serious” and “stupid.”
Following the meeting, the Payson Roundup obtained district credit card statements for the past year that show Greer charged $9,007.20. Most of the statements involving questionable charges had hand-written notes saying Greer had not provided receipts.
Greer says not turning in the receipts was simply an oversight. “I have mountains of receipts at home, I guess I’d have to go through them.”
Greer has also admitted that he made charges that were not legitimate and issued a reimbursement check to PSWID for $2,299.33.
The credit card statements obtained by the Roundup show Greer reimbursed the district $926.69 for charges on the district’s Aug. 13 statement, $660.11 for charges made on the Sept. 13 statement and $712.53 for charges on an Oct. 13 statement.
Among the charges he was apparently reimbursing were $70 and $22 to Native New Yorker, $15 to JB’s Restaurant, $11.70 and $6.35 to McDonald’s, $23 to Safeway Stores, $27.22 to Early Bird Café and the $441.97 to Bass Pro Shops.
The three statements include other charges along with handwritten notes indicating the charges were for district projects such the housing of booster pumps located at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Pine.
Greer, an electrician as well as board treasurer, has volunteered to work on several district projects without pay and has been heavily praised for his contributions.
He argues that he used the card, which several board members didn’t know existed, to purchase materials for a project he was volunteering on.
The use of the PSWID credit card for non-district purposes, he maintains, was simply an accident.
“I carry multiple cards and somehow that one got used ... it was not intentional,” he said. “Also sometimes my employees use my cards and when they ask which one, I tell them ‘Whatever one that works.’”
The Visa credit card statement for June, which was the month the district experienced a massive water outage and that Greer used his electrical experience to help correct, shows 17 charges, many of them for gasoline.
On the statement is a handwritten note, “All board expenses and materials for church vault” and “per Mike Greer.”
The “church vault” is the booster pump housing at the LDS church.
Although Greer says all charges on that statement were for the church project, the bill included a $31.85 charge at Sidewinders in Pine, a local watering hole.
Although Greer has admitted misusing the credit card, he argues, “No harm was done ... it was stupid and I recognize the mistake, but nobody got hurt and I didn’t break any law.”
He also contends that it was he, rather than Weeks, who first brought the matter to the attention of the district. “I found the problem and I reported it ... I didn’t try to hide it.”
Weeks says that’s not true and that he accidentally discovered the misuse. Weeks said he decided to immediately make it public at a board meeting to insure transparency. He insisted Greer admitted to the misuse of the card only after he found out the issue was going to be made public.
Other aspects of the case remain unclear.
For instance, two board members must sign checks to pay the credit card statements. The district has not explained which board members signed off on the charges or whether they saw the details of the billings.
Lovetro has refused to discuss the incident saying any talks would violate the open meeting law. However, the Roundup has asked for copies of the payment checks.
Several residents have called for Greer’s resignation, including Sam Schwalm, who will take a seat on the board in January.
However, board member Don Smith disagrees. “His resignation is a personal choice by him for ethical reasons and should not reflect pressure from other board members.”
While the entire incident remains in limbo, the board has called a special meeting for Dec. 6.
Smith apparently believes there will be a large turnout telling Lovetro, “You may need more space than the PSWID office.”