A Shady Cove property owner, Norman Fincher, filed suit in Jackson County Circuit Court challenging the Shady Cove Water District over the $6 fee that is billed to residents each month. Fincher said his personal belief is the water district board misinterpreted ORS264.110 and may not have the authority to charge the fee. Fincher’s attorney Michael W. Franell of Medford filed the paperwork on the afternoon of November 20. The water district has not yet been served with legal notification.
The legal document filed states that the Shady Cove Water District (the defendant in the case) is an Oregon Special District organized under ORS 264.110 to provide domestic water to properties within the district. The district currently does not have any facilities to provide water service and does not provide water service to any properties within the district.
The district does not have a master plan for construction of facilities to provide services. And the fee is not a fee for service. The document also states that water district ordinance 8-1 established the fee without an election.
Fincher, filing as an individual, felt that someone should step forward and question the fee that has many residents upset. He is doing it on behalf of the community. Although Shady Cove needs water, the district has set the community back several years by the way the board has handled business, said Fincher.
Fincher, a personable businessman, first appeared at the October 16 water district meeting. He read a list of 28 questions to the board, unrelated to agenda items. He questioned board member’s qualifications, what ORS statute allows assessing an arbitrary fee for service not yet rendered, whether residents would get the $6 fee returned with interest if the district does not meet its goals and more.
When Fincher finished, treasurer Bob Hawkins rebuked Fincher for speaking without permission. Fincher then asked for a copy of the bylaws. A visibly angry President Jim Collier would not supply the bylaws and a heated exchange began between the two men and continued after adjournment of the meeting. Fincher then decided to challenge the fee in a court of law.
Fincher is interested in organizing a group of local people to change things in the water district. A water district needs to be created with community good will, he said. The group would investigate exactly what the community wants. “I don’t have a desire to force my opinion on them (the community),” said Fincher.
Fincher said he is looking for community support from residents and a group to work positively. For more information Fincher may be reached at 941-3785.
By Margaret Bradburn
Of the Independent