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Woodmen Hills: bond, lawsuit and recall effort

The Woodmen Hills Metropolitan District met June 18 at the Woodmen Hills Recreation Center West.The WHMD board and district residents have been embroiled over a recall to remove board president Jan Pizzi. Besides the recall, the board discussed bond negotiations and a lawsuit against Paintbrush Hills Metropolitan District.Prior to the meeting, the board met in executive session to resolve bond issues. The board presented a final bond agreement during the open meeting. The bond will restructure the district’s debt. District Manager Larry Bishop said bondholders accepted a reduction in the per-annum bond rate that would result in a savings to the district of $1 million per year for six years, for a total of $6 million. District Attorney Pete Susemihl said the bond documents would probably be ready for a signature in 30 days.After the motion to accept the bond resolutions passed, Pizzi said, “In essence, what this means is for the next two years, there will be no increase in your water bills.”Board Secretary Debra Wright presented information on long-standing problems with Paint Brush Hills Metropolitan District. WHMD has filed a lawsuit against Paint Brush Hills, WHMD’s partner, to compel them to comply with the operating agreement for the water treatment plant. On May 5, the state of Colorado served a cease and desist order against PBHMD for water quality violations.During a follow up call June 22 to WMHD Attorney Pete Susemihl, he said the lawsuit seeks damages against PBHMD to recover the WMHD share of the new holding pond, which is required to correct conditions at the current water treatment facility, estimated at $450,000. “They need to come up with a method to pay their share of the new plant, which we think is going to be needed by 2011 when the present permit expires,” Susemihl said. “That new plant could cost $10 to $12 million. Their share will be based upon the amount of waste water they place into the plant.”The recall effort was next on the agenda. Three district residents – Ron Pace, Marti Wallner and Joanne Seeker – initiated a recall effort to remove Jan Pizzi from her position as WHMD board president.In a June 16 interview, Wallner identified three issues that prompted the recall: a truck lease and truck purchases, covenant enforcement and district salaries.”The recall petition was turned in on June 9 at 10:10 a.m., and our petition contained 542 signatures in 63 pages,” Wallner said, adding that they only needed 300 signatures. She said the El Paso County Clerk and Recorder had tentatively finalized the petition, with 385 valid signatures and 157 invalid.Pizzi addressed the reasons listed for the recall. “I have no jurisdiction over any covenants whatsoever.””There are lies out there that Janice Pizzi encourages and pushes lawsuits for covenant litigation,” Bishop said. “Absolutely false. The Woodmen Hills Covenant Management Board is the one that enforces covenants, not the Woodmen Hills Metropolitan District Board. So that’s absolutely false.”According to the recall petition, Pizzi had voted to lease purchase a $150,000 vacuum truck and purchase four new trucks, estimated at $85,000.”I was not on the board when they approved this,” Pizzi said. The truck was purchased in April 2008 and she was elected in May 2008, she said. “According to Tabor laws, we cannot purchase that big of an item, it has to be leased,” Pizzi said. “The initial purchase was done before I even got there. To stay within the law, I signed the lease.”Regarding the four trucks listed on the petition, Pizzi said there were just two. “There were two trucks. We only voted for two,” she said. “We had two trucks with very high mileage and they were old.” She said it was a good time to replace the old trucks because of the good deals offered by the auto industry – hard hit by a troubled economy.The petition cited district salaries as well, stating that Pizzi had “promised to bring down the cost of salaries.” Pizzi said, “It’s one thing to sit out in the audience, and then to come up to the podium and sit here, and then one thing more to sit in the president’s seat. When you find out what’s going on, it changes your mind. And you do change your mind. You find out, wow, our guys are right in line. They are worth the money they’re making. We’re not any higher than anyone else.”Pizzi also said that WHMD is the biggest district in the area, managing wastewater for Meridian Ranch, Paint Brush Hills, Falcon Hills and Falcon Highlands.Pizzi is hoping to avoid the recall. In a June 19 interview, Pizzi was busy asking people to remove their names from the petition. She had from June 15 to June 25 to bring the number of valid signatures below 300. Pizzi said she had approached 35 of the original people, and all had removed their names from the petition.”If I don’t get enough signatures by Thursday (June 25), then I file a protest,” she said.Editor’s note: Jan Pizzi could not be reached for an update on the status of the petition signatures. Bob Balink of the El Paso County Clerk and Recorder’s office called the NFH just prior to deadline and confirmed there has been three protests filed against the petitions. The hearings were scheduled after the NFH deadline. The NFH will follow-up with the rulings in the next issue published Aug. 1.

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