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Sewer recall set for Sept. 2
Written by Mark Lineberger   
Wednesday, 27 August 2008 12:51

A recall election for Camp Verde Sanitary District Board Member Rob Witt is set for next Tuesday, Sept. 2.

His challenger is Dick Rynearson, a former trucking company owner and husband of current District Board Member Carol Rynearson.

The road to recall started late last year as some residents noticed dramatic increases in their tax bills to help fund a sewer expansion project and the construction of a new wastewater treatment plant.

While the sewer expansion has been in the works for years, it was the tax hike that stirred people to action, particularly a group of residents concentrated in the Salt Mine Road area.

The Salt Mine Road area was originally incorporated into the district when it formed in the early 1970s. Many residents voted to sign on because the plan was to extend sewer service to a nearby school. The school has long since moved, and the residents in that area still don’t have sewer service.

Despite that, they’ve been paying sewer taxes for more than three decades.
When the tax increase took effect, a grassroots campaign led to the creation of the Salt Mine Road Sewer Opposition Group.

The group’s original goals were to either get out of the district or to see the rest of the town incorporated into the district.

When the group’s members realized that they were still on the hook for their tax bills no matter what, their focus shifted to recalling members of the board they felt were responsible for getting them into this predicament in the first place.

To make their image seem less confrontational, the organization changed its name to the Sanitary District Fairness Group.

They targeted then-Chairman Rob Witt, along with members Al Dupuy and Kathy Scherich.

Witt stepped down from the chairman position after the recall effort became official.

Board member Ben Bueler wasn’t targeted because some group members expressed the feeling that they could work with him.

Nevertheless, Bueler has publicly expressed his anger that the group seemed to be cherry-picking board members for recall when every decision that had drawn their ire was approved unanimously by the district board.

The group is upset that, while a ballot measure to secure funding for the sewer project was approved by the voters, a private loan costing millions more was obtained without a vote from the public.

The group has also expressed concern that the district board hasn’t been transparent in its business practices.

Board members have consistently argued that every
decision has been made in public meetings, and there has never been any attempt to do anything behind the backs of the people they were elected to represent.

The fairness group leveled charges of abuse of tax levy authority, failure to disclose future tax levies during the budget process, inappropriate allocation of district assets, inadequate record keeping and financial reporting, unauthorized destruction of public records, withholding meeting minutes and other public records and failure to keep the public properly informed of district business.

Since the Salt Mine group’s efforts began, the composition of the sewer board has changed dramatically.

Former Board member, and Camp Verde Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Roy Gugliotta, resigned from the board; budget cuts unrelated to the district forced him to leave town. He now has a new job with the chamber of commerce in Rohnert Park, Calif.

Scherich resigned after she learned that she was ineligible to serve because she didn’t live in the sanitary district.

Dupuy had promised that if the recall effort gained enough support, he would resign rather than spend tax dollars on a recall election, and he stuck to his word.

While Dupuy still volunteers for the district because of his intimate knowledge of the expansion project, Witt and Bueler remain the only elected members of the board, serving alongside new appointees Bob Frasier and Carol Rynearson, both former members of the Salt Mine group, and new District Chairman Gregg Freeman.

The Tuesday election will determine if Bueler will be the only originally elected member of the board.

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