Missteps haunt two city councils in Davis

Jan 17 2012 - 7:38am

Three members of the Sunset City Council may have overstepped their legal bounds Jan. 10 when they adopted a resolution removing Mayor Chad Bangerter from the Wasatch Integrated Waste Management Board and replaced him with newly elected Councilman Kevin Snow.

Meanwhile, similar missteps recently took place during a recent Syracuse City Council meeting. In both cities, potential challenges may be forthcoming.

Bangerter, who was paid $2,000 a year to serve on the district board in addition to his monthly mayoral salary of $743.91, said he is considering challenging the action.

Sunset City Councilmen Brent Andrews, Ryan Furniss and Snow approved Snow's appointment by a 3-2 vote.

In Syracuse, city council members may also have overstepped their authority in taking a similar action Jan. 10. The council removed Councilman Doug Peterson from the North Davis Sewer District Board and replaced him with Councilman Larry Shingleton.

The action by both councils may be in violation of state code and are being further studied, officials say.

"They can't do that," NDSD Chairman Ivan Anderson said of the Syracuse City Council action.

Peterson replaced Councilman Matthew Kimmel on the sewer board in May 2011. The council removed Kimmel from the board following an ethics question involving the purchase of buffer property for the district's sewer treatment plant.

Peterson lobbied to retain the appointment, but lost by a 3-1 vote.

Anderson said his concern with the vote is that Peterson was appointed to replace Kimmel, whose four-year term doesn't expire until the end of 2013.

So there isn't any confusion through hearsay, Anderson said, he will have the sewer district's legal staff render an opinion and draft a letter to Syracuse city to make them aware of this information.

Syracuse Mayor Jamie Nagle said she is aware sewer district officials have expressed concern about the process of the new appointment and the city is looking into the matter. She declined further comment.

Shingleton said he has wanted to serve on the sewer board for several years, citing the ability to attend a meeting held later in the day, and also a role in representing the city on a taxing entity.

Peterson said he wanted to retain his seat on the NDSD board.

"I hope you'll let me stay on the board. I've spent six months repairing the relationship, and I hope I'll be able to continue," he said.

Shingleton, along with newly elected Craig Johnson and Kimmel, approved his appointment. Councilwoman Karianne Lisonbee abstained from the vote.

NDSD board members receive up to $5,000 a year in compensation based on their attendance at the monthly board meetings, said James Schroeder, district finance director.

Sunset city officials are also trying to remedy earlier appointments, including Snow's appointment to the Wasatch Integrated Waste Management District board, which oversees operation of the district's waste incinerator and landfill in Layton.

"We are trying to work out the problem. I feel the proper process needs to be followed," Bangerter said of what occurred at the Jan. 10 council meeting.

The Sunset council took action, ignoring the advice offered by city legal staff, according to audio minutes of the meeting available on the city's website.

State code sections 10-3B-302 and 10-3B-104 addressing six-council member governments -- the code that Davis cities come under unless otherwise stipulated by city ordinance -- explain the mayor is chief executive officer of the city and in charge of making municipal appointments to commissions, boards and committees, upon the council's advice and consent.

On the condition the council does not give its advice or consent on a mayor's recommended appointment, the mayor can return with other recommendations.

Should the mayor's recommendations continue to be rejected by council, then the city would be without representation on that board, because the city council by law is not authorized to make the appointment, officials said.

"The idea (behind the code) is to get the mayor and city council to work together, rather than against each other," said Gary Crane, legal counsel for Utah League of Cities and Towns.

"They need to come up with somebody that is mutually agreeable to both. The alternative is for the mayor not to appoint, and the city not be represented," Crane said.

Wasatch Integrated Waste Management District CEO and Executive Director Nathan Rich said it is Sunset city's prerogative to put on the board who they want. But it is important that the district have board members who are there legally, he said, adding, "in being a fully vested voting member of the board."

Regarding Bangerter's performance, Rich said, the Sunset mayor has been "great" as a fully participating board member, including attending additional training exercises and chairing two of the district's subcommittees.

Standard-Examiner correspondent Antone Clark contributed to this report.

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