Movement begins to recall newly appointed Grand Lake Rec District board president | SkyHiNews.com

Movement begins to recall newly appointed Grand Lake Rec District board president

Tonya Bina
tbina@grandcountynews.com
Grand County, Colorado

The Grand Lake Metropolitan Recreation District’s newly appointed president Jeremy Kennell is up against a freshly launched recall.

Staying on as a board member, board president John Gould, who was elected in May, retired from the district presidency Nov. 4 due to a shift in family responsibilities and obligations, according to Gould.

In that same special meeting, the district board unanimously appointed board member Kennell to the post.

Yet brewing uptown is a recall effort instigated by former board member Tom Jenkins.

The recall effort, based at the Gateway Inn with 50 signatures by Monday out of 110 needed, cites past events for which Kennell should retire, according to Jenkins.

Gould, for one, strongly disagrees with the petition, saying Jenkins is still throwing a “temper tantrum” regarding past events.

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Post-budget season in early 2008, Kennell and a fellow board member challenged the recreation district’s budget.

In a letter to former Executive Director Bill Winfield and District Administrator Bruce Crutcher, Jenkins claims, Kennell pointed out a misallocation of $180,000 and claimed the district’s budgeting should be analyzed and perhaps executed differently.

In a meeting that followed involving auditors and lawyers, plus the money lost in hiring and the subsequent loss of the executive director, Jenkins calculates $25,000 was spent on “unnecessary expenses” while what took place was “impugning the reputation of two very good, honest men,” Jenkins said.

“I didn’t feel it was accusatory,” said Kennell. He vows he was simply doing his duty as an elected official by pointing out budget discrepancies.

“It was making sure that we are looking at budgetary real numbers that happen within each department, because you can’t manage a business enterprise if you’re not looking at real numbers.”

When asked about Jenkins’ estimate of “unnecessary expenses,” Kennell responded, “The unfortunate part is that if there is a recall, it’s going to be an exorbitant expense to the district,” he said.

Kennell’s objections were about how funds were expensed between the district fund ” which carries the touring center, general recreation and general administration ” and the enterprise fund, which involves golf operations and the restaurant.

“A lot of the dollars that it actually takes to operate the enterprise functions have been accounted for in district administration,” Kennell said.

With another budget season now under way, through planning meetings, the district has been modeling a budget “in which expenses are shown where they actually occur,” Kennell said, such as the transfer from one department echoed in a line item of another, “so that you get an accurate understanding of the performance of any department.”

At the time Kennell questioned the 2008 budget; a subsequent audit found that the budget balanced.

Kennell maintained the district could do better to make department finances more transparent.

Jenkins said he still resents that Kennell’s letter and its concerns were brought to employees before they were presented to board members. In response, Kennell said he was bringing his views to administrators who dealt with budgetary decisions on a day-to-day basis.

On his petition, Jenkins also cites a meeting Kennell hosted at Caroline’s Cuisine that concerned recreation district business. Kennell invited members of the constituency to the meeting, but Jenkins believes “anybody from the district who wanted to attend should have been able to do so.”

“In February, I simply reached out to my constituency,” Kennell said. “It was an open, public meeting, anyone could attend. Invitations were sent, of course, to get people there.

“The meeting was held to simply talk to (district members) about the district and reaffirm what my beliefs were and what my campaign was when I originally ran for the district, and what my commitments were. It was a meeting with the public; it was no different than any other elected official going out and saying, ‘I’m having a rally,’ or, ‘I’m stopping in for tea or coffee.'”

In reference to the petition, “I did everything I could to discourage it,” Gould said Monday. “It’s nonsense. To me there is no justification for it. The Winfield thing ” in no way, shape or form should he be recalled for that,” Gould said.

Gould defended Kennell and the current board of directors, saying for the first time in a long while there is a “cohesive,” board that is “moving forward.”

Kennell and Gould cited ways in which the board is trying to attract more users to district amenities, such as contemplating a new pricing structure for golf “to make it more affordable for people to recreate,” creating a free tubing hill as part of winter offerings, and using Great Outdoors Colorado funds with the goal of creating a disc golf course on district property. The design phase of a clubhouse renovation is set to start after the first of the year.

“It’s not like it used to be with one side pitted against the other,” Gould said about the board.

A recall petition, if successful, could lead to another district election.

Kennell indicated that if it comes to that, he’d re-run.

“I made a commitment to the taxpayers, to the voters,” he said.

” Tonya Bina can be reached at 887-3334 ext. 19603 or e-mail tbina@grandcountynews.com.

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