The state ethics commission didn’t find probable cause in complaints against four of five supervisors of the South Indian River Water Control District.
In December, former supervisor Bob Berman, of Palm Beach Gardens, filed complaints against board President Stephen Hinkle, and supervisors John Meyer, John A. Jones and Michael Howard, claiming that they violated the district’s code of ethics and received compensation for days they did not work.
Thomas Powell, district vice president, was the only person not named in the complaint.
Supervisors are paid $50 a day for a maximum of 15 days a month for engaging in work related to the district.
Berman said he believed anything over one or two working days, for board sessions only, would be excessive.
“There are no provisions in the statutes for the Supervisors to perform any work beyond the work of attending sessions of the board,” Berman wrote in a letter to the district’s treasurer, Charles Haas.
Virlindia Doss, executive director of the Florida Commission on Ethics, found sufficient evidence to begin a preliminary investigation. Commission advocate Elizabeth Miller found no probable cause to any of the alleged violations.
“The Board was happy that the complaints were unfounded and look forward to continuing to serve the residents of the District,” Michael Dillon, district manager of operations, said in an email to The Palm Beach Post.
Berman wasn’t immediately available for comment.
The attorney for the district, Terry Lewis, told investigators that it has been “tradition” for water district board members to claim $50 per day for performing any function for the district, and the law doesn’t detail what qualifies as work, according to the investigation report. Haas also told investigators that the district is audited by an outside firm and has had no issues.
Berman sat on the board for about a decade “years ago” according to the report and ran in the district’s 2017 elections, losing to Jones, who was appointed to the board a few months before the election. Berman now sits on the board of the Pal-Mar Water Control District.
The South Indian River Water Control District was established in 1923 and today covers 20 square miles, providing special services to Jupiter Farms, Palm Beach Country Estates, Egret Landing and Jupiter Park of Commerce. Its original purpose was to manage stormwater, but now it is in charge of maintaining infrastructure and conducting capital improvement projects such as building roads and water control structures like canals.
Five people are on the board of supervisors and are elected to three-year terms. Three members must live in the district, with at least one living east of the C-18 Canal and one living west of the canal. One person must live outside of the district.
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