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Tigard, water district board finally part ways

The city turns over funds and records and is now 'out of the business'

TIGARD - The acrimonious relationship between city officials and the Tigard Water District Board of Commissioners has finally been severed, with the city turning over funds and records to the district.

Last month the city cut a check for $66,071.03 and delivered several boxes of records to the office of the district's legal counsel.

'We've been wanting to turn over all the services, including the accounting, since July,' said City Manager Craig Prosser on Wednesday. 'We've been working with them and had given them a proposal on how we would provide services, and then gave them alternatives. We've been trying to get feedback from them, but it's been a very difficult task.

'They asked for the turnover of the money early, but we weren't going to piecemeal it. It was a package deal. It wouldn't have been appropriate for us to turn over just the money. It's been a very long and very difficult process.'

The 'long and difficult' process started last July, when four of the five commissioners were newly elected to their positions and sworn into office.

The Tigard Water District serves about 6,200 customers in the unincorporated Bull Mountain area, and the city of Tigard had been providing such services as staffing and providing notice for the board's meetings, collecting the revenue generated by water district customers, maintaining the water-distribution infrastructure and storing records.

On Aug. 23 the water board filed a complaint in Washington County Circuit Court against the city and three former commissioners asking that the board's June 25 meeting be declared an improper public meeting because it had not been properly noticed and that any decisions made at that meeting be declared in violation of Oregon law.

At the June meeting, which was the last one for three of the commissioners, they voted to amend a 1994 intergovernmental agreement between the city and the water district by modifying the voting procedure from a unanimous to a majority vote on the Intergovernmental Water Board, which has representatives from the water district and the cities of Tigard, Durham and King City plus an at-large representative.

Also at the June 25 meeting, the former board voted to approve a change in ownership of two parcels of real property - the Tigard Water Building and the Canterbury property - from ownership by the water district in fee title to a co-tenancy ownership among the four government members of the Intergovernmental Water Board.

The water district board later dropped the three former commissioners from the complaint, which has not yet been heard by Washington County.

Until the Dec. 21 water district board meeting, the city was providing staff for the meetings and charging the water district for the services.

Prosser said that when the water district board 'finally indicated that they wanted to do everything, we immediately cut them a check and turned over all of their records.'

He added, 'We're out of the business. Given the very bad relationship, it's all for the good. It's a lot easier for them and a lot easier for us.'

At the water district board's Dec. 21 meeting, Chairman Ken Henschel noted that 'people elected us to clean up a lot of problems, and that's what we're doing.'

At that time, the city had delivered four boxes of records to the office of Eileen Eakins, the water district's attorney.

'The city told us they had 60 boxes,' Henschel said, questioning why there were not more records considering that the Tigard Water District was formed in 1938.

The board voted 3 to 0 to select Washington County as the district's archivist and provide storage services.

According to Henschel, the city also had turned over the district's financial records for two months.

'The district has taken money out of our account without ever submitting an accounting to the district,' he said. 'A preliminary look at the (staff) timesheets shows an opportunity to save money.'

Commissioner Kinton Fowler noted that the services provided by city to the district from July through October totaled $7,000.

'That would be $21,000 for the year,' he said.