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home : latest news : latest news September 15, 2014

2/20/2013 6:20:00 AM
Some district residents ask Mayer Water Board members to resign
Lucas well handling among concerns
Heidi Dahms Foster
Editorial Manager

Several audience members, including two recent candidates for the board and a former district employee, called this past Thursday for the resignation of one or more members of the Mayer Domestic Water Improvement District.

The requests came as the result of a number of issues, including confusion about the ownership of the Lucas Well, one of the largest wells that provides water for the Mayer and Poland Junction areas.

On Dec. 12, MWID Office Manager Heather Pressley assisted Carol O'Bresly to file a Request to Change Well Information with the Arizona Department of Water Resources, listing Mayer Water Company as the previous well owner and Carol and Stephen O'Bresly as the new well owners.

Dave Christiana, hydrologist with the ADWR, said the well registry does not create any ownership; ownership is a property issue - a legal, civil matter - that a court would settle.

But Mayer residents are wondering if the Lucas Well on the O'Bresly's property will continue to provide water for customers of the Mayer Water Improvement District. Steve O'Bresly said he wants Mayer to continue to use the water.

O'Bresly is adamant that the Mayer Water District will continue to have access to the water just as they have for the past 12 years. He wants the well registered in his name and a written contract drawn up between himself and the MWID manager and board.

In the January meeting, Mayer Water District Board Chairman Joe Mish indicated the board would make no decisions on the ownership of the Lucas Well until the board and the district's attorney, Shiela Schmidt, studies it.

"This is what we're up against," Mish told the board and the audience, holding 50-60 pages of documents and reports dating back to 1935.

During the Feb. 14 meeting, audience members, including Margie Good, Joanne Coe, Frank Soto, and Kathy King cited as their reasons for asking board members to resign, violations of the Open Meeting Law, inconvenient meeting times and improper posting of agendas, not following established procedures and policies, and reports that are incomplete or do not contain enough information.

"Things have gotten worse and worse, and this handling of the (Lucas) well situation is a concern of mine. It's very sad you don't know what your responsibilities and duties are. Rather than fix it, you get mad and close ranks. This is our water district. If we don't have water, we all are going to suffer. We should all work together, and we are not. It is not an open door policy," Coe said.

Resident Ethel Barnum said she feels like the Mayer Water District has two boards.

"We have the one that is supposed to run the water company, and I thought they were doing a good job, and then we have Rita Macdonald and her board. I, for one, am tired of it," she said.

Richard Hackett also asked for Mish's resignation, citing a contract dispute over available water meters that cost the district's taxpayers a settlement and attorney's fees.

Mish told Hackett he would not resign, and other board members did not respond to the requests during the meeting.

Board member Kevin Jones requested that the district put up a weatherproof bulletin board outside the district office so people can come by any time of the day or night and view public agendas and notices.

Also during the meeting Macdonald took Field Manager Casey Boone to task, saying his reports were too short, and that someone told her he had used water company equipment to do work at the Elder's Club.

"You should do that on your own time," she said, adding that she is the only person questioning the district's actions. "I am the only board member that has any concerns about this company. I am against six people," she said.

The board also made decisions to waive the late fee portion of a homeowner's water bill because she had not been notified that her tenant was behind on the bill. However, the owner of a vacant home in which frozen pipes allowed leakage of thousands of gallons of water would have to pay the bill, board members said, because the owner should have been checking in inclement weather.

"I don't think at this point Mayer customers should have to pay for someone else's water that they did not do due diligence," Mish said.

The board tabled discussion of a proposed emergency rate increase until the next meeting.

The next meeting is scheduled at 6 p.m. on Thursday, March 14, at the Mayer Water District boardroom at 12994 Central Avenue, Mayer.

(Reporter Sue Tone contributed to this story).

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