New Water Commissioner Still Owes Sewer District

"Annapolis Water District stands to gain a new commissioner this fall who, according to a state probe, still owes money to Kitsap County Sewer District 5 dating from his years on its commission.Richard B. (Dick) Dillon, running unopposed for the Position 3 seat on the Annapolis district’s governing body, served from 1990 to 1995 as a commissioner for Sewer District 5. He ran for reelection in 1995 but was defeated in the primary.In April 1996, after Dillon had left office, the state auditor released the results of an investigation for the years 1992 through 1994 that found eight violations of travel reimbursement practices by sewer district commissioners and administrators, including Dillon.The infractions included drawing per-diem payments for workshops and conferences in which meals were already provided, being reimbursed twice for the same expense, and inadequate documentation for travel expense claims.Dillon was cited for violations adding up to a total of $1,198.50, which he has never repaid to the district. “The auditor’s office identified a number of problems and who was responsible for them,” said District 5 general manager Dick Fitzwater. “They suggested the money be paid back, but the auditor doesn’t have the authority to force someone to comply if they don’t want to. And (Dillon) didn’t want to.”Fitzwater said he and others singled out in the audit did reimburse the district for their share of the questionable expense payments. Dillon, by this time out of office, did not.“I deny owing them money,” Dillon said. “I think they sent me a letter about it a long time ago and I wrote back and told them their facts were in error. That was the end of it.”Dillon said he never saw a copy of the auditor’s report and no longer has any correspondence on the issue.“I wrote him a letter and told him what the auditor’s report said and how much he owed the district,” Fitzwater said. “(Dillon) called me back and told me he didn’t agree and wasn’t going to pay it. That’s as far as it went.” In addition to the controversy over travel expenses, Dillon was also the subject of a 1996 lawsuit by a former sewer district clerk who alleged Dillon blocked her annual pay raise in retaliation for a harassment grievance she had earlier filed against him. The disgruntled clerk was eventually given an out-of-court settlement by the sewer district’s insurance company in return for dropping her suit. “We settled with her,” said Fitzwater, “but under the terms of the deal I can’t tell you how much she got.”“That was four years ago,” Dillon said. “The district did pay a settlement, but I don’t remember how much it was.” He wouldn’t comment on the specifics of the lawsuit.Dillon, who said he was reluctant to speak to an Independent reporter for fear of being misquoted, was to have faced Holly Spears in the Nov. 2 general election for the Annapolis Water Commissioner seat. But Spears abruptly withdrew a few weeks into the race. “I didn’t really know what I was getting into,” Spears said. “I’m retired and I wanted to do something productive to serve the community. But when I realized just how much of my time this would take, I changed my mind about running.”Spears’ withdrawal virtually assures Dillon of taking office."

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