The longest-serving of the five board members for the Parker Water and Sanitation District resigned her position, citing increasing negativity that she says has had a destructive impact.
Mary Spencer, who was elected to the board of directors in 2006, sent a resignation letter to district manager Frank Jaeger June 29 that highlighted her growing frustration with the board. Three new members were elected in May after running on a platform of fiscal restraint and transparency. They said spending had gotten out of control and there was not enough oversight or public involvement.
When reached by phone July 16, Spencer said she became tired of her colleagues blaming past boards for a range of issues. Dissenters and “two sitting board members have made a disastrous decision to destroy not only the district but the reputations of past board members,” the letter said.
A voicemail seeking a response from board member Tracy Hutchins was not returned before press deadline.
During the interview, Spencer also sharply criticized a recent decision to fire the water provider’s longtime lobbyists, whom she says have helped kill legislation that would have cost the district, and therefore ratepayers, millions of dollars. Spencer said the $48,000 that was paid annually to the lobbyists was well worth it. She also bemoaned the recent firing of Floyd Ciruli, a public relations specialist and political analyst who was contracted by the PWSD.
“To cut from the budget without understanding what they’re doing is short-sighted,” she said.
Spencer, whose term was set to expire in May 2014, said the decision to leave was difficult because she still believes in the district’s mission, but it was “not worth the stress” to deal with the fallout from the attempted board recall in 2009 and subsequent conduct that has had a “detrimental” affect on the water district.
The board members, meanwhile, have already begun to move on. The now four-member governing body discussed ways to appoint a replacement during its July 12 meeting. Board chairwoman Darcy Beard said she wanted to fill the spot before a board retreat in early August, but said a pre-planned vacation would prevent her from doing so. The directors agreed that they should all be involved in the appointment decision, and Bill Wasserman suggested inviting candidates to the retreat.
The PWSD posted a notice on its website and is asking potential candidates to submit a letter of interest and a resume before Aug. 1. The duties include directing financial planning and budgeting, formulating policies, authorizing debt and establishing fees and charges.
Spencer does not want to dissuade potential candidates from submitting their names for appointment and said she is glad the board is opening the process to the public. She wished the board luck as it goes into the future. Spencer plans to stay involved in PWSD business by maintaining close ties with the staff and advocating for the district.
“I served for six and a half years and we’ve done some really good things,” she said. “It was a real honor and pleasure serving on the board and serving the staff.”
Board launching search for new manager
The PWSD board is hoping to approve a job description and advertisement for district manager Frank Jaeger’s position.
Jaeger announced plans to retire at the end of his contract in December and the board expressed a desire to keep him on the staff during the transition. The board originally proposed ousting Jaeger immediately after the May election, but backed off the plan after lengthy discussions.
The directors plan to set a timeline for conducting a nationwide search, including posting the job on industry websites and in a Special District Association of Colorado newsletter. They are strongly encouraging an advanced degree and want Jaeger’s successor to either currently live in or move into the district. Jaeger lives in Elbert County.
The PWSD will announce the finalists for the district manager position 14 days before a decision is made.
How to apply for the open board position
Send a letter to:
Parker Water & Sanitation District
Attn: Appointment to Board of Directors
19801 E. Mainstreet
Parker, CO 80138
Or email to: