Terrebonne water district board members removed

Kay Walters and Sharon Struck recalled following dispute over summer water bills

By Elon Glucklich / The Bulletin / @EGlucklich

Published Apr 2, 2014 at 12:01AM

Terrebonne voters removed two members of the town’s water district board in a recall election Tuesday.

The seats held by Terrebonne Domestic Water District board members Kay Walters and Sharon Struck will be vacated in the next 14 to 20 days, according to Deschutes County Clerk Nancy Blankenship. The water district’s other three board members will vote on replacements.

A group of Terrebonne residents started the recall against Walters, Struck and two other water district board members last fall. About 50 residents said they received August water bills at least three times as high as they’re used to paying, without an explanation from the board for the increase.

The other two board members, Jay Walters — who is Kay’s son — and David Dow, resigned in February and were replaced. But Kay Walters and Struck refused to step down. A fifth board member, Tammy Altimus, joined the board in the fall and was not part of the recall.

Walters was voted out by a 134 to 75 margin, county election returns showed as of 11 p.m. Tuesday. Struck was voted out 124 to 84. Only Terrebonne residents could vote in the election, with a simple majority needed to recall.

The water bill issues started in June, Kay Walters told The Bulletin earlier this year, after one of the water district’s two full-time employees left and the other died. It left the district without a full-time staffer to read customers’ water meters over the summer, Walters said.

She said the board offered affected customers a 20 percent discount on those bills and extended the time period they could pay.

But some Terrebonne residents have said the offer didn’t go far enough to fix the problem. Some reported getting $500 water bills in August, instead of the roughly $150 rates they’re used to in summer. They said they were charged for far more water than they actually used.

The water district oversees Terrebonne’s water supply. The five-member board is charged with settling disputes such as over water bills.

The state requires between 14 and 20 days for counties to certify election results, so Walters and Struck won’t have to vacate their positions until then.

The other board members are Altimus, Julie Burford and Sam Bell. Burford and Bell replaced Jay Walters and David Dow in February.

This was the first recall election in Deschutes County since 2002. That year, a group of Bend residents tried to recall four members of the Bend Park & Recreation District board. But voters decided to keep the board members in office.

— Reporter: 541-617-7820, eglucklich@bendbulletin.com