A Payson town councilor is suing a local group he helps oversee.
Jim Ferris is suing the Rim Country Educational Alliance after they allegedly failed to respond to multiple record requests.
Ferris is seeking dozens of documents from the RCEA, including audit reports, bylaws, financial statements, budgets, real estate holdings and property master plans.
The towns of Payson and Star Valley formed the RCEA, a separate legal entity, in July 2011 through an intergovernmental agreement. The RCEA was created to bring a university to Payson as the RCEA owns a 252-acre parcel site off State Roue 260 it bought from the Forest Service. So far, no university has signed on, but the RCEA is working with the MHA Foundation on a park off Granite Dells Road.
The MHA and the Rim Country Educational Foundation (RCEF) are funding the project. Kenny Evans is the president of the MHA Foundation.
Evans said Ferris has been “harassing” the RCEA for three years about records.
He said they have provided him with 3,000 records, fulfilling their legal requirement to provide records.
He said they had lawyers review each of Ferris’ requests and provide the records which they are required under law.
“I don’t know how much more fair we can be,” he said.
Jon Cline, president of the RCEA, told the Roundup Tuesday he had not received a copy of the complaint and was unaware Ferris had filed one. He said he knew that Ferris had filed multiple record requests for the same documents and they had responded with records.
In August 2019, Ferris began putting in record requests to the RCEA, according to a complaint, which the Roundup reviewed at the Payson courthouse. Ferris claims he hand-delivered the request to then RCEA CEO Sanja Long. It was not honored, according to the complaint. So, a month later, he sent the request via certified letter. He received the letter back, which had been marked “refused.”
In October 2019, the Town of Payson made a request for documents to be shared during a special joint meeting of the Payson and Star Valley councils.
“The Alliance failed to present any substantive document other than random and inconsistent bank checking statements,” according to the complaint. “Requested documents were omitted and other documents contained no substantive financial or organizational information as requested.”
In November 2019, the town’s attorneys requested the same documents, but no “substantive documentation was delivered.”
In July 2021, Ferris and George Chrisman put in a new record request. When Ferris received the documents, they were again “wholly inadequate” and did not fulfill the record request.
So, in late October 2021, Ferris and Chrisman put in another request, pointing out which documents were missing and the shortcomings of the Alliance’s response.
“No response of any kind to the October 29, 2021 request has been received, and as such, the October 29, 2021 request has therefore been denied.”
Ferris is asking that the RCEA turn over the records and pay his legal fees.
Ferris had no comment.
An order to show cause hearing has been set before Judge Bryan Chambers at 9 a.m. Jan. 28.