The Gila County Board of Supervisors this week ordered a five-year audit of the finances and management of the Pine Strawberry Water Improvement District.
Acting as the PSWID Board of Directors, the supervisors expanded the scheduled audits for fiscal 2012 and 2013 to include the earlier years, after considering a request from customer Pam Mason of Pine.
Mason wrote, “this would cover the resignations of key companies that had entered into contracts with PSWID, and the resignation of Board Chairman Mr. William (Bill) Haney.
“Written statements were subsequently broken by PSWID and in particular with respect to the method of procuring wells from two developers.”
She complained that the previous, routine audits didn’t cover issues related to board member Mike Greer’s admitted misuse of a district credit card and questions raised about the awarding of a contract to install generators broken up into several smaller contracts to avoid state rules requiring competitive bids.
She said the district now needs a “forensic audit” rather than a standard audit. “The district purchased services in the amount of $92,395 from a contractor to install generators in multiple locations during the fiscal year. These services were purchased from a firm that was previously owned by a member of the board of directors. This board member had sold the firm to a third party during the fiscal year under the provisions of an installment payment agreement, which spanned several future years. This agreement may have led to a potential conflict of interest due to this board member’s involvement in the procurement process.”
Meanwhile, Pine residents Richard James, Forest McCoy and Ric Hawthorne all thanked the supervisors for their action in ordering the audit.
“The change of dates is appreciated,” James said. “A lot of people have data and are willing to help (with the audit). You don’t need to break new data.”
McCoy urged the board to make sure it hires a firm to conduct the audit, not the water district staff. He also offered his help.
“We will hire an accounting firm and get the audit back prior to May (special) election (of a new PSWID board), so all candidates are on the same page,” said Mike Pastor.
John Marcanti said he favored the audit “so long as it’s for the betterment of everyone in the community.”
Tommie Martin said she understands the audit being sought will cost about $15,000, but she does not know whether that figure actually applies to each of the five years.