Water board under Sunshine Law scrutiny

Allegations that three of Fairpoint Regional Utility’s seven board members violated Florida’s Sunshine Law by meeting in private last month are under review by the State Attorney’s Office in Pensacola.

“The only thing I can say at this time is I can confirm that we have received a copy of the complaint regarding the Sunshine matter…and we are in the process of reviewing it at this time,” Chief Assistant State Attorney Greg Marcille said Friday in response to a Navarre Press query.

“I cannot give you any time frame on how long that review will take,” Marcille said.

The written complaint hand-delivered to Marcille’s office last week isn’t signed. A copy provided to a reporter attributes the allegations to unidentified “concerned employees and members” of Holley Navarre Water System, which is one of three utilities that comprise the Fairpoint Regional collective.

One of the assertions is that the Oct. 31 meeting included behind-the-scenes strategizing about persuading the HNWS board to support a major debt restructuring. Such financial decisions by Fairpoint Regional must have the support of all three member utilities, which include Midway Water and South Santa Rosa Utility System.

The Holley Navarre board is scheduled to meet next on Nov. 21, when there may be a vote on the debt deal. Last month the board tabled a vote so its finance committee could further examine the details. At that time, four of the seven members voiced criticism or concerns about the plan. Among the dubious directors was Troy Bossier.

The Sunshine complaint notes that Bossier was present at the Oct. 31 meeting with Fairpoint directors.

The complaint underscores the concerns of some HNWS directors, previously reported in this newspaper, about the proposed restructuring of $9.8 million in Fairpoint Regional debt that would increase the amount owed by about 40 percent to roughly $14 million.

According to the complaint, the three Fairpoint Regional directors who gathered for an unpublicized meeting at the HNWS building in Navarre are:

  • Holley Navarre General Manager Paul Gardner
  • “Buz” Eddy, a paid advisor to the City of Gulf Breeze
  • Matt Dannheisser, the mayor of Gulf Breeze

 

Read the full article in the Nov. 16 issue of Navarre Press. Subscribe online at navarrepress.com for as little as $38 per year.

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