Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Picabo Cemetery dispute nearly resolved

3 file for district board elections


By KATHERINE WUTZ
Express Staff Writer

Concerns over the administration of the Picabo Cemetery District may come to a close within the next month.

It appears that the Cemetery District has not had an elected board since 1992. A board is required because the district collects more than $10,000 in property taxes each year from its residents.

The district is closer to having a duly elected board this month, as three district residents have filed to fill the vacant commissioner seats.

County Clerk JoLynn Drage said Monday that Bob Terzian, Ken Worthington and Jerry Allred have filed to run as write-in candidates for the district. As none of the seats is contested, the men will automatically serve beginning Jan. 1 without an election.

Blaine County Commissioner Larry Schoen said Picabo resident Gary Castle told him that his brother, Raymond Castle, has run the cemetery district without a duly elected board since two other elected commissioners refused to take an oath of office in 1992.

Raymond Castle did not return a call from the Idaho Mountain Express to determine the current state of the board, but stated in July that the district had an elected board. Castle has not filed for re-election.

Sch

"A case can be made that Ray Castle has done a service," he said. "However, that does not change the fact that he has submitted budgets without board authorization or that he paid himself without a properly appointed board."

Levy funds had been mostly paid to Raymond Castle, who reportedly performed most of the maintenance on the property.

Drage said Raymond Castle had told her that he had sworn Worthington and Terzian in as commissioners. When asked if Castle had the authority to appoint commissioners, Drage was hesitant.

"I don't know," she said. "But now that they have filed, I will send a letter to the governor asking him to appoint these two people."

Drage said the letter requesting Gov. Butch Otter to appoint the two men as district commissioners was suggested by the State Tax Commission.

Schoen said much of the confusion regarding the district was due to the vagueness of Idaho code regarding taxing districts.

"Idaho code is deficient in clarity regarding accountability for officials of taxing districts," he said, adding that penalties for violating the law or even who should enforce it aren't clear.

Consolidated elections, in which the county oversees elections for all districts in the county, should make oversight easier in the future, Drage said.

Katherine Wutz: kwutz@mtexpress.com




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