The board of trustees overseeing asset distribution for the dissolved Columbia Health District is dismissing a claim from the district's former board that the trustees are acting without legal authority.

Henry Heimuller, who sits on the board of trustees - which is composed of the three members of the Columbia County Board of Commissioners - said a review of events leading to the trustee board's appointment gives the board total confidence it has the legal right to proceed.

'The process of dissolution gives [the former health district board] no authority to do anything or request anything,' Heimuller said.

The main function of the trustees is to dispose of assets and settle outstanding debt.

Oregon statute establishes that assets remaining after debt is settled revert to county control except in the case of property, which goes to the city where it is located. In this instance, ownership of the Millard Road property will fall to the city of St. Helens.

The former board - made up of Tammy Maygra, Carrie Cason, Georgia Keiper, Madalene Anderson and Peggy Crisp - had voted to uphold the dissolution plan naming the board of commissioners as trustees prior to the district being dissolved, Maygra, the board's former chair, had earlier told The Spotlight.

Maygra said she and the other board members received bad legal advice that led them to approve the dissolution plan.

Three of the board members - Maygra, Cason and Crisp - have since filed a resolution with the Columbia County Clerk's Office calling for an election on an amended plan.

In addition to its goal of naming a new board of trustees, the amended plan seeks to have any remaining assets of the district distributed in the form of tax credits to district residents after any outstanding debt has been resolved.

How, exactly, that credit would be equitably managed as a percentage of how much each resident and business paid in health district taxes is unclear, though Maygra said she believes it could be orchestrated through the county treasurer.

'Personally, we haven't really discussed a percentage amount, but I would imagine we would do it as fairly as we could,' she said.

Maygra also delivered a written demand to the current board of trustees dated Dec. 14 asking for each member's resignation and an accounting of all actions the trustees have taken since Sept. 20, when the district was dissolved. The demand called for the trustees to resign so that Brady Preheim of Scappoose and Joe Cason of St. Helens could take over those responsibilities.

Heimuller said he is confused why the former board changed its opinion on the approved dissolution plan more than two months after the vote to dissolve the district.

'They went through the process as required by law,' he said. 'Why they changed their mind, I have no idea.'

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