SC Water, where controversy thrives

Disillusion or dissolution, or both? Is the first the cause of the attempt at the second? Can the disillusioned folks of Shady Cove cause the dissolution of the Shady Cove Water District?

This was the main topic of discussion at the May 12 water district meeting. Discussions held under new business indicate that the members of the water district do not feel dissolution of the district can take place in the near future.

Per the managers report, read to those present by SCWD manager Jim Collier, “A court case involving Johnson v Pendleton states that there are two kinds of contracts that a governmental agency can sign. One is called ‘legislative’ and the other is ‘proprietary’.

All legislative contracts can be changed at any time by the governing agency.

Proprietary contracts are on going and can not be changed by a new board of commissioners.

SCWD has several legislative contracts. SCWD has more than 50 proprietary contracts that can only be satisfied by providing running water at the contract holder’s property line. Those contracts would need to be satisfied before any dissolution proceeding can get very far,’ said collier.

The managers report also stated that it is believed that three of the candidates currently running for the SCWD Board have “conflict of interest” issues. Regarding Mr. Keith specifically the report states:

“I have a copy of a document, purporting to transfer a water storage agreement between the United States of America and the City of Shady Cove to Angler’ Cove/Shady Heights Water Company. The City invested money into the securing of that water. At that point, the water became a public asset with value…”

The report continued, “Former Mayor Ruth Keith, signed the document on 6-24-08 as the Mayor. She assigned this document giving a public asset to a private company. A private company that provides her with domestic water. Can anyone say ‘fraud’? An attorney that I know said it and then added that this looked like ‘theft of a public asset’.”

Manager Collier continued, “Mr. Keith, her husband, is a candidate for the SCWD Board. This same attorney suggested that Mr. Keith might be guilty of the same charges under the ORS Ethics laws as well as ‘theft by receiving’ as he is on the board that is receiving the benefits of this water.”

Also discussed was how can the disillusioned petition. A hand out was provided stating that there are three ways the dissolution of a district can be initiated: 1) by a petition of the electors 2) by resolution of the district board 3) by resolution of the county board. In the case of both district and county board petitions it must be that the dissolution is in the best interest of the people of the district.

Another hand out provided estimated the cost of dissolution to be in the vicinity of $27,000. Costs included: loans, election expenses and existing water contracts.

Also discussed was the decision of Judge Arnold in the matter of Norman Fincher v The Shady Cove Water District. The Judge decided the monies collected via the $6.00 fee are taxes and cannot be collected without a vote by the citizens. The water district will return money to those would like it back. Collier advised that some folks had already contacted him and did not want their money returned.

The above decision was the only actual decision made during the 20 minute meeting. No doubt further decisions will be made by both the SCWD and the citizens once everyone has time to think about the information presented and discussed during the meeting.
By Christy Pitto
Of the Independent

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