BUCKEYE, Ariz. - Major leadership changes could lie ahead for the city of Buckeye if a group of angry residents are successful in recalling several of the city's elected officials.
"We feel that the only way we are going to get movement to change things for the better for the citizens here is to remove the people who we feel are part of the problem," said Chad Taylor.
Taylor, along with his wife and two other residents, met Tuesday morning to discuss details about moving forward with the recall they hope will remove the mayor, vice mayor and two council members from their offices.
This is the latest effort from Buckeye citizens who say they're outraged over expensive water bills that, in some cases, total in excess of $1,000.
"I work constantly for the future of Buckeye and that’s all I do," said Mayor Jackie Meck. "And if that’s how they feel -- I certainly can’t tell them not to do it."
Meck emphasized several measures the city has taken in response to the outrage, including establishing a water hotline specifically designated to collect and investigate complaints.
So far, the city says 96 customers have complained to the water hotline out of the 18,000 resident they serve.
Out of those calls, 51 reports were found to be spikes in water usage and, so far, 87 on-site meter inspections have been performed by the city.
"We are responding to what they told us in the last couple of weeks," Meck said. "The second thing is that we can’t do things just automatically. I, as mayor, can’t just say we’re going to do all these different things."
The city is continuing to try to figure out the source of the high water bills, which sometimes show water usage into 30, 40 or 50 thousand gallons per month.
The mayor says the city is also looking at ways to alert customers to unusual spikes in water usage.
An attorney with the Coppersmith Brockelman firm, which is not affiliated with either the city or any residents, stated a recall can happen as long as certain requirements are met under Arizona's statues.
A written statement outlining the reason for the recall must be submitted and then the sponsor must collect valid voter signatures totaling 25 percent of the votes cast in that election.
According to the city of Buckeye's website, the outcome of the most recent mayoral race in August showed Meck with 3,274 votes and his two opponents collecting 1,850 and 790 votes, respectively.
If all the signatures are gathered, a recall election will be held where candidates can run against the incumbent. If the incumbent wins the election, the candidate can take the office and a recall cannot happen again unless the sponsors agree to pay the cost for the previous recall election.