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Sewer staff, directors quit
Written by Mark Lineberger   
Wednesday, 21 November 2007 13:36

The Camp Verde Sanitary District had a turbulent week that saw two board mem-bers call it quits and all of their employees turn in their resignations to the Town of Camp Verde.

Recently, the sanitary district has come under increasing criticism from unhappy members of the public who feel they’re paying more and more for a service they don’t receive.

On top of that, the district’s leadership has been questioned by the Camp Verde Town Council about their operations and hiring practices. The Town Council is planning to take over as the district board pending the results of the November 2008 election. It has also pledged more than $2 million to help build a new sewer plant.

While the town and sanitary district have made progress in recent weeks with open communication and reaffirmation of the town’s political and financial commitments to the district, two sanitary board members want out.

Board members Roy Gugliotta and Al Dupuy turned in their letters of resignation last week. Gugliotta’s resignation was accepted Nov. 14; the board has yet to officially accept Dupuy’s.

Dupuy said his resignation is still up in the air.

“I’m really still on the board until they accept my resignation,” Dupuy said. He also said he’ll sit on the board until a replacement can be found. That might take awhile, Dupuy acknowledged, because he doesn’t expect district residents to be eagerly lining up for the job.

“It’s gotten ugly,” Dupuy said.

Sewer District Chairman Rob Witt said that Gugliotta had been an extremely capable board member, and the search for a replacement would go on until they could find someone equally as qualified and as dedicated to the people of the district.

Gugliotta said he has his reasons for resigning, but doesn’t want to discuss them publicly.

While the sanitary district’s leadership is going through a shake up, their paid employees are having problems of their own. They also still have jobs, but someone else is signing their paycheck.

As part of the takeover agreement between the town and the district, district employees were technically on the town’s payroll so that a trained and competent staff would already be in place when the Town Council eventually takes the reins.

In recent months the Council expressed concern about how the employees were hired.

The situation started to unravel with Marshall Davis, a sanitary worker who was fired two weeks ago after an undisclosed problem with a background check.

Then, the sewer district chief operator, Rick Spears, resigned after admitting to Camp Verde Human Resources Director Dave Smith and Town Engineer Ron Long that he had falsified some of his credentials from the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality.

Spears presented documents that alleged his certification in wastewater collections was up to date with ADEQ when in fact, his certification had lapsed.

Spears later apologized to the sewer board in a letter Nov. 14, and said he was working on getting his certifications current.

“I am sorry for the turmoil I have caused the district,” Spears wrote. “We are working on getting it sorted out. I do take full responsibility for my actions and will bare all the consequences it may cause. Lesson learned, I will be very careful about all documentation and information I gather and present.”

Smith has said that Spears will not be rehired on the town’s payroll.
Davis’ firing and Spears’ resignation were the last straws for the other district employees. Tracey Feltes, George Siler and interim sewer plant operator Jan Grogan turned in their letters of resignation Nov. 13, citing the stress of uncertainty and political controversy.

“I do not like the way Rick Spears and Marshall Davis were treated,” Feltes wrote. “I hate not knowing if I have a job from day to day. I choose not to work under these conditions.”

Siler wrote that he was resigning “due to the political unrest and using of employees as political pawns.”

Grogan also cited the treatment of Spears and Davis, writing that she felt their treatment was “unacceptable and unethical.”

“It has left an atmosphere of fear and mistrust amongst the remaining employees,” Grogan wrote. “I choose not to work under these conditions.”
The employees’ lack of jobs didn’t last long. Witt rehired them all on a temporary basis, although this time it was on the district’s payroll.

“We can’t run a sewer district without employees,” Witt said. “Especially when you have a plant taking in 200,000 gallons a day.”

The next scheduled meeting of the sanitary district is Wednesday, Dec. 12, at 1 p.m.

 

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