SYRACUSE -- A councilman embroiled in a dispute about a potential profit from his insider role in the sale of property has been replaced as the city's representative on the North Davis Sewer District Board.
In action taken Tuesday night, the Syracuse City Council appointed Councilman Doug Peterson to the North Davis board, replacing Councilman Matthew Kimmel.
Kimmel's role in the purchase of property by the NDSD is under review by the Davis County Attorney's Office.
The vote to appoint Peterson to the district board was unanimous, including an affirmative vote by Kimmel.
"Syracuse has taken care of their own business, and now we don't have to," North Davis Sewer District Board Chairman Ivan Anderson told the Standard-Examiner on Wednesday.
Anderson said had the council not acted, his board was prepared to take some sort of action at its regularly scheduled June 9 meeting.
"Syracuse did the right thing in handling this in-house," Anderson said. "I think Syracuse did what they had to do."
The appointment to replace Kimmel was pre-emptive, said Mayor Jamie Nagle, who said she added been contacted by Anderson, of Clearfield, to say Kimmel would be voted off the board if the council did not act.
"I'm concerned with our intergovernmental relationships. The sewer district, serving the city and being in the city, is a critical part of that," Nagle said.
She said she does not assess any guilt or innocence over the allegations surrounding Kimmel. However, she was concerned the sewer district board had lost confidence in Kimmel as the city's representative on that board.
"Peterson will do a great job on the sewer board," she said.
As a member of the board, Kimmel was receiving from the sewer district a base pay of $2,400 a year and an additional $200 for each monthly meeting he attended. Kimmel did not attend the board's May 12 meeting.
Peterson will receive the same compensation.
District board members lost confidence in Kimmel because of his role in a $730,000 property transaction involving 14.57 acres that was expected to generate more than $21,000 in commission for the real estate agent who handled the transaction, officials said.
A colleague of Kimmel handled the sale, and the issue of whether Kimmel negotiated a finder's fee with his associate has been raised.
Council members discussed the issue of Kimmel's role on the district board for about 40 minutes in a work session before voting in open session to make the move. There was significant discussion about whether an appointment to replace Kimmel should be interim, pending the legal outcome of the case.
Asked to comment on the issue, Kimmel maintained his innocence and claims he never formally negotiated a finder's fee with a real estate colleague, who actually handled the property transaction.
Kimmel said a conversation on the topic was done only in passing. He said he has not profited from the sale.
"I didn't do anything wrong. The allegations are false," Kimmel said.
Kimmel maintains if he were to profit from the sale, he would have had it in writing.
Kimmel said he recused himself when the topic came up at the sewer district board meeting to be as transparent as possible.
In discussing the matter, council members were careful to avoid any presumption of guilt on the part of their colleague, but they also worried about what would happen if they didn't act on the NDSD board request.
"The concern is not whether or not something occurred. Can Syracuse continue to be represented?" Councilman Alan Clark said. "What is the right thing for the city?"
Peterson was one of three board members who expressed interest in the sewer district post during the work session. Nagle and Councilman Matt Ocana also expressed interest in filling the post.
A resolution to appoint the mayor to the vacant post died for lack of a second in the open session before the motion was made to appoint Peterson to the post.
Formed in 1946, the North Davis Sewer District services the cities of Clearfield, Clinton, Layton, Roy, Sunset, Syracuse, West Point and a small area of Kaysville, Hill Air Force Base and areas of unincorporated Davis and Weber counties.