YELLVILLE — A committee of the Ozark Mountain Solid Waste District met Wednesday in the absence of district director Melinda Caldwell and discussed what they want to see regarding financial records regarding district expenses, as well as the future of the district.
At a February board meeting, chairman and Boone County Justice of the Peace Fred Woehl appointed the committee to meet with Caldwell to point out what board members want Caldwell to produce at public meetings. Committee members are Marion County Judge John Massey, Searcy County Judge Jim Harness, Marshall Mayor Kevin Elliott and Bull Shoals Mayor David Nixon.
The four members said Caldwell wasn’t present because she said she had gotten tied up with the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality and couldn’t attend the meeting.
“I was fulfilling my job at NABORS landfill at the request of ADEQ and the receiver,” Caldwell said in a statement to the Daily Times.
She said Watershed Geo was at the landfill repairing three pressure relief valves, four well heads and some turf covering the landfill.
“While on site, I made repairs to a door that had been kicked in at the office building. I later assisted the receiver and his counsel in trial preparation,” she said.
Committee members said they wanted to see receipts from Caldwell for expenses she bills the district above the amount her company, Via Recyclables, is paid to run the solid waste district.
Caldwell has invited board members to her office to view all the receipts, but they have asked for them to be presented to the board in full at meetings.
They also said they wanted more detail for billing from John Verkamp, the Charleston lawyer who represents the district.
“If he turned that in to his firm, would they find that acceptable?” Nixon queried. “Why should we?”
Nixon went on to say that he wanted to know when Caldwell was informed of the conflict she had with the Wednesday meeting. He also said she didn’t give the committee a chance to reschedule the meeting.
“I don’t know, I’m not there, I’m not in her head,” Nixon said. “But it strikes me at minimum as uncooperative.”
Massey mentioned a statement apparently made by Geoffrey Treece, the Little Rock lawyer court appointed at the receiver, at a recent district board meeting.
“Mr. Treece said for the record that she works for us,” he said.
“Yes, she does,” Nixon said. “That’s my point.”
“And she will answer to us before it’s over with,” Massey said.
Committee members said their issue was that public tax dollars were at stake and the board constitutes citizen oversight over public money.
Elliott said current board members inherited problems with the landfill. Now taxpayers are having to foot the bill through the $18 fee being collected on business and residential property taxes.
“And that ain’t right,” Elliott said.
“We answer to the taxpayers of the county,” Harness said. “[Caldwell] doesn’t.”
The board is comprised of county judges and mayors of cities within the district. Those officials can also designate someone else to take their places on the board.
Nixon asked other committee members if they wanted to prepare some kind of recommendation to the full board when it meets later this month.
Elliott said he would make a motion at the board meeting to terminate Caldwell’s contract. Nixon said he would tend to second the motion, but he added a caveat.
“Like the dog that catches the car; now what are you going to do?” Nixon said.
“There’s other dogs out there that’ll chase that car, I promise you,” Massey said.