Utility board officer resigns amid complaints

Posted on May 16, 2018 by Staff reports

Holley-Navarre Water System Treasurer Ricki DeSantis resigned following last night’s board meeting, citing health reasons. DeSantis was facing multiple complaints seeking to remove him and three other board members from office after actions they took resulted in a large cash settlement for a former employee. 

DeSantis participated in Tuesday’s meeting via phone and had to ask for clarification more than once when called upon, drawing criticism from the large crowd of members in attendance.

Additionally, although HNWS President James Calkins tried to skip over an agenda item to discuss the vacant HNWS Vice President position, members in the audience shouted out, pushing for the matter to be heard. Ultimately Director Daryl Lynchard’s motion to restore former HNWS Vice President Will Goulet was successful.

DeSantis later declined when nominated as the HNWS representative to Fairpoint Regional Utility System’s board of directors, stating health issues would prevent him from serving.

Other matters approved during the meeting included:

  • Refunding a portion of an over-estimated tap fee to the owners of the Grey Tap Room and Wine Bar;
  • Selecting Revize firm to design, develop and maintain a new website; 
  • Purchasing portable signage for public notifications of repairs, notices, etc.

Although many members in attendance showed up at the meeting to address five pending complaints against board members, including DeSantis, those complaints, listed below, were not heard.

Calkins had called a special 9:30 a.m. meeting May 11, attempting to hear the complaints. Director Mark Miller left the meeting in protest. The remaining members at that meeting, Calkins, Mayer, Gunnoe and DeSantis, voted to dismiss the complaints against themselves and uphold complaints Gunnoe and Mayer made against other directors.

However, because some of the complainants were not appropriately notified of the special meeting to hear the complaints, which per HNWS bylaws require five days’ notice, the actions taken at the May 11 meeting are in dispute.

The five complaints submitted by HNWS directors, officers and members include:

  • Former HNWS Secretary Doug Larson, who was removed from his position after it was announced he was filing a complaint, seeking to remove James Calkins as president;
  • HNWS newly seated Secretary Debbie Gunnoe, who filed a complaint against Will Goulet for using language in a private meeting which she deemed inappropriate;
  • HNWS member Bryan Duncan, who filed a complaint seeking to remove Calkins, Mayer, Gunnoe and DeSantis for spurring the costly legal settlement;
  • HNWS director Daryl Lynchard, who filed a complaint against Calkins, Mayer, Gunnoe and DeSantis, citing the same reason as Duncan;
  • HNWS director Geo Mayer, who filed a complaint against fellow board member Daryl Lynchard, citing six reasons to remove him.

HNWS Attorney Keith Kilpatrick during a May 15 meeting prior to the board meeting tried to get the parties to drop their complaints against one another. However, three complainants were not present during that meeting, which was unannounced to the membership.

meeting at he next Holley-Navarre Water System board meeting starts at 6 p.m., Tuesday, May 22 at 8574 Turkey Bluff Road in Navarre. It is unknown at this time whether or not any of the complaints will be heard during that meeting.