An investigation of a dozen charges leveled in July against the Centerville City Council and mayor by a citizens group is not merited, a deputy attorney general said Monday.
Rick Wyss, a deputy in the Utah attorney general's office, said there is no reason for any further involvement by his office.Wyss said he plans to report his conclusions to the group that requested the investigation, the Concerned Citizens of Centerville.
The charges mostly involve construction of a 57-acre Target shopping center at the Parrish Lane exit of I-15 in the city.
They range from failing to advertise public meetings to conflicts of interest involving city officials. At least one group member, president Steve Dutcher, said he feared council members were taking bribes.
Mayor Priscilla Todd, named in some of the charges, said she was confident the city and council would be exonerated. She's also angry at the four members of the citizens group.
"To have these allegations made, with no basis, is irresponsible," Todd said. "I'm disgusted and disappointed they made these allegations without even making a telephone call to check on them."
Council member Francine Giani-Luczak was more vehement.
"I think what we have in this incident is nothing more than a shameless abuse of taxpayer dollars by four disgruntled citizens who are against any effort by the council to make the city a better place," she said.
"It's shameless. I feel they should repay the attorney general's office for the time and effort they put in on this, pulling them away from much more critical issues such as crime and child abuse," Giani-Luczak said.
Dutcher, who has filed to run for a council seat, said he's glad the investigation clears the city.
"We wanted to find out from a legal point of view if they cut any corners, if they did all they were supposed to do on this shopping center," Dutcher said."We're happy with the findings, that there wasn't anything going on, that there was no money under the table," he said. "My objective in asking for the investigation was to make sure they were clean. That nothing was found doesn't hurt my feelings at all."
Dutcher maintains approval of the shopping center is contrary to the city's master plan.
City officials dispute that, saying the corner has been earmarked for commercial and retail development for over a decade.
While the allegations have been laid to rest, the friction between the citizens group and the council will go on, with Dutcher and Phil Raclawski, the group's vice president, running for council seats against Giani-Luczak and incumbent Michael Barton.
"I can't wait for the candidate debates," Giani-Luczak said. "I've had it with this group. We felt some restraint while this investigation was going on, but now I'm taking the gloves off."
Should either Dutcher or Raclawski win a council seat, Todd said she can be fair and work with them, despite calling their dealings with the city "disruptive."
Speculating on working with the mayor, Dutcher said, "I'm sure there will be some hard feelings. "I'm not going to rubber stamp the mayor like the council does now.