Newberry CSD board member accused of misuse of funds
NEWBERRY SPRINGS • A director for the Newberry Springs Community Services District was accused of misusing public funds after he was reimbursed by the agency for training to obtain a Class B Commercial driver’s license, according to a report by the CSD.
The license is required to drive two of the Fire District’s vehicles and was obtained by Vice President Calvin Owens 14 months ago while serving as a volunteer firefighter, according to CSD President Robert Royalty and Director Diana Williams.
Owens, one of five directors on the Community Services District board, was reimbursed for the funds totaling $700 in December by the CSD’s general manager, but Williams said that type of training has never been paid by the CSD in its 53 years of existence.
Royalty said he removed the agenda item by direction of the Board’s attorney last Tuesday before it was approved and discussed. It is against State bylaws to mention an employee’s name specifically on the agenda, according to Royalty. Owens was considered an employee as a Fire District firefighter, although Royalty said a Board member’s name is OK to include.
Owens had no comment. He still serves as a volunteer firefighter and a Director on the Board.
Williams, who has served as a CSD Director for eight years, said she added the item to the agenda after she noticed the money was paid out from the General Warrant Register.
“It’s not our money. It’s the public taxpayer’s money. We’re not allowed to spend it on anything personal,” Williams said. “Everything we spend must be approved.”
She said Owens got the reimbursement signed off by the Interim Fire Chief and on the same day past CSD president Robert Seeley resigned in December 2012. She said the District typically pays for minimal training activities like First Aid.
“The other stuff is over and above,” Williams said.
Royalty said the Department is in need of drivers and understood the need for training.
“It’s a totally volunteer Fire Department,” said Royalty. “The volunteers are going to go out and use their own money to train?”
He said the matter will be investigated and Owens may be asked to pay some of the money back.