The ongoing clash between Sandy Mayor Steve Newton and the Salt Lake County Water Conservancy District is making the rounds of valley cities and made a stop in South Jordan Tuesday night.
In separate presentations, pleas were made for support from South Jordan City Council members. The council declined to take sides at the meeting.Water District representatives passed out a five-part booklet that includes a presentation outlining district activities, plans and efforts. The other sections address the dispute with Newton and Sandy City and includes recent news articles on the dispute, a copy of Sandy's lawsuit, a copy of proposed legislation the district claims Newton wrote, and copies of resolutions passed by district member cities and customers supporting the district's stand.
Newton countered with a denial that he wrote the legislation aimed at limiting the powers of special service districts and said his only intent has been to make the district publicly accountable for its budgeting process and a decision to build a new district office complex. Newton said the complex is extravagant and totally unnecessary. He showed a homemade video of the complex under construction and the existing building which he said could easily be added to if more work space is really needed.
The two sides are waiting for a court ruling on a suit brought by Sandy to expedite its efforts to withdraw from the Salt Lake County Water Conservancy District and join the Metropolitan Water Conservancy District. That suit has held up a $26 million bond sale scheduled by the district to finance water projects. The suit not only seeks to free Sandy from the district but also seeks a ruling on whether the district has the constitutional right to levy property taxes. Both sides said a ruling could be received as early as Friday.
The state's Legislative Auditor General has taken interest in the dispute and has begun an investigation and audit of district financial records and practices. Board member Lee Wanlass, Bluffdale mayor, said the district welcomes the audit and will stand behind its current budgetary processes.
In the meantime, the two sides will be making the rounds to cities throughout the valley, and water user organizations to drum up support for their respective positions.