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Herriman City Council calls for immediate resignation of mayor accused of misusing funds

By Ashley Imlay, KSL | Posted - Dec 13th, 2018 @ 7:39am



HERRIMAN — Herriman Mayor David Watts faced the ire of the city council Wednesday evening as he attempted to defend himself against allegations of misspending city money.

After the council discussed the issue for more than two hours during a public meeting, Councilwoman Nicole Martin read a letter of reprimand asking for Watts' "immediate resignation."

"Should you choose not to resign, we will formally remove you from all of your assigned board and committee positions," she said.

After the announcement, which was met by applause from residents, Watts apologized for his part in the "situation."

"I've been accused of a lot of things. I've been accused of lying. I've been accused of intentionally trying to get gain from our city," Watts said in response. "Do I take responsibility for some of this situation? Yes, I do. My intent has always been to repay the appropriate charges."

He said that he will not resign but agreed to repay the city.

In a controversy that's been brewing for nearly six months, Watts has been under fire for allegations that he misspent nearly $1,000 of city funds on travel expenses. In November, prosecutors with the Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office declined to file criminal charges against him, expressing doubt that the evidence would prove any criminal intent at trial.

For more than two hours Wednesday during a tense work meeting and a public meeting soon after, both of which were streamed live on social media, members of the council vented their frustrations with the mayor.

During the work meeting, Watts passed out a bound booklet explaining items he purchased earlier this year with the city credit card. But city council members said the gesture was six months too late and didn't vindicate him of violating city policy.

Councilman Clint Smith expressed his annoyance that Watts had used city supplies to print out the books, explaining the gesture was emblematic of Watts' attitude in his role of mayor.

"This is completely distractive from the city business. … And again, six months later, we get a bound book … printed on city paper and bound with city supplies," Smith said.

"The issue is much deeper than just a disregard for city policy and a disregard for our taxpayer dollars and an attitude that, as the mayor, that you can make those decisions on your own without consulting with staff, at the very least, who has to control our city's budget," Smith added.

According to a list of Watts' alleged violations read by the city's director of finance Alan Rae, Watts did not provide proper documentation for expenses, including describing who was present and what was purchased during meals. Several items were also documented with missing receipt forms rather than original receipts.

In a letter read to community members at the public meeting, Watts said he believes "each question charge was directly related to my service as your mayor."

"I look forward to repairing my working relationship with the City Council and with our staff. As your mayor, my commitment to you is complete honesty and transparency," Watts said. "I believe that time and my continued service to you will reflect my integrity."

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However, several residents in attendance at the meeting didn't accept the mayor's apology and asked for his resignation when the meeting was opened for public comment.

As the meeting continued late into the evening, nearly 300 people watched the livestream on Facebook and commented on the length of it as council members continued to express their frustration.

"I think they are trying to make the mayor give up out of boredom," one viewer wrote.

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