The Parker Water and Sanitation District’s leadership has drastically changed after mail-in voters elected a slate of candidates running on a platform to reduce what they call wasteful spending.
Tracy Hutchins (2,714 votes), Bill Wasserman (2,572) and Kelly McCurry (2,591) were all voted to the water district’s board of directors May 8. Hutchins and Wasserman have been particularly vocal in their opposition to the board’s way of doing business.
Kelly McCurry, who has been in the water and sanitation industry for 22 years, believes his expertise could help guide the agency into the future, but also says that spending could be reined in. He said water bills could potentially be lowered through a change in oversight. McCurry said he is frustrated with the seeming lack of transparency while he tried to conduct research.
“That bothered me, and as I asked more questions, it bothered me more and more,” he said.
McCurry has been in close contact throughout the race with Wasserman and Hutchins, a former town council member who says she has attended almost every water board meeting for the last two years. Hutchins says she was concerned about spending millions on a reservoir that won’t be filled anytime soon while water bills continue to skyrocket. McCurry and Hutchins vowed to do everything they can to try to reduce water bill costs.
“We are really going to work on governance and accountability to the customers,” Hutchins said. “We’re going to do a top-to-bottom analysis of the organization as a whole and do same thing on the financial side.”
She has spoken frequently with PWSD board member Darcy Beard, who created a website called www.ParkerWaterTheDamTruth.com, which provides a board member’s perspective of operations at the water district.
“During my first two years as a director on the Parker Water Board, I have witnessed reckless spending on consultants, lobbyists, lawyers, salary increases and contract change orders,” Beard said on the site. “This pattern of irresponsibility resulted in my lone “No” vote on approval of the 2012 budget.”
District leaders have defended their spending, pointing to expenses on things like lunches and vehicles as a matter of doing business and maintaining relationships with contractors and other associates. In April, assistant district manager Jim Nikkel said water rates have not increased as a result of the construction of Rueter-Hess Reservoir. However, property taxes were raised to help cover the debt because tap fees from new housing, which were supposed to fund the project, fell off during the housing slump.
Wasserman, who got involved in a recall election when the district tried to raise rates by 28 percent in 2009, said public input will be a large part of going forward.
“Looking at the election results last night, it was a clear mandate from the populace: they want change,” he said.
Wasserman, along with Hutchins, said he also intends to “try to repair some of the bridges that have been blown up over the years” and improve the district’s image among the public. The water provider’s relationship with the Town of Parker’s leadership has long been strained.
The new board members will be sworn in during a meeting May 17 at the district headquarters at Mainstreet and Victorian Drive.
Number of votes received
Tracy Hutchins: 2,714
Kelly McCurry: 2,591
Bill Wasserman, 2,572
Jack Hilbert II: 1,226
Jeff Rudolph: 1,022
Randall Huls: 834