Indian Hills approves $10K for Longhofer

Trustees for the Indian Hills General Improvement District voted 3-1 to reimburse $10,413 in attorney fees to Indian Hills General Manager Dennis Longhofer.

He hired the attorney after refusing a request for a drug test by Indian Hills trustees Art Baer and Riley Evans.

Trustees Laura Lau, Chuck Swanson and Brian Patrick approved the payment. Evans was the only dissenter and Baer was not present.

Baer and Evans requested the test in mid-June after Longhofer exhibited allegedly suspicious behavior at work, including incoherent speech and disorientation, according to documentation provided by Indian Hills officials.

Attorney Christopher Phipps, who represented Longhofer, said his client questioned the trustees' authority and the test wasn't done.

"My understanding from your personnel code is that prior to requiring testing, the request should be communicated to the general manager or counsel. The appropriate person in this case would have been counsel and as far as I know, that wasn't done," he told the Indian Hills board last month.

Patrick said he voted to make the $10,000 payment to protect the district from further litigation.

"Two people on the board went independently to the office with no direction from the chairman," he said. "They put us in a tenable position for litigation by an employee. Had they followed the policy, there may have been a completely different outcome."

Lau said it wasn't a question of innocence or guilt. The procedure was not followed. Based on that, Longhofer had to spend a lot of money to defend himself.

"If we have a concern, we need to follow procedure," she said. "Right or wrong, we still need to treat people with dignity and respect."

Indian Hills resident and former trustee Diane Humble Fournier said district procedures were not followed in the request for a drug test because neither the Indian Hills attorney nor his assistant were available.

She called the payment a tremendous disservice to taxpayers of the Indian Hills General Improvement District and said a recall for misappropriation of government funds should be considered.

Requirements for the general manager position include a bachelor's degree and managerial experience, which Longhofer lacks, she said.

"I don't know him. He might be the nicest guy in the world," she said. "But this board chose to ignore all those facts. They adhered to the record when it suited them."

"No one authorized him to hire an attorney. That came of his own volition," said Indian Hills resident and former trustee Ron Kruse. "He's responsible for that expense."

Susie Vasquez can be reached at or 782-5121, ext. 211.


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