Julia Dawson (Courtesy Public Works)

Julia Dawson (Courtesy Public Works)

Nuru scandal: Official who knew about Recology overcharging is out

A top finance official left her role with the Department of Public Works Friday after being named in a controversy involving the trash collection company Recology overcharging its customers for years.

Julia Dawson is departing after more than seven years as the director for finance and administration, acting Public Works head Alaric Degrafinried said in an internal email obtained by the San Francisco Examiner. She has worked for The City for 24 years, having served in positions at several other departments.

While Degrafinried did not offer a reason for her departure and thanked Dawson for her service, the news comes a month after she became a figure in the scandal surrounding former Public Works head Mohammed Nuru.

Emails show Dawson was alerted in January 2019 or earlier to an error in a request for a rate increase from Recology that led to customers being charged an extra $86.6 million since July 2017.

The company was granted a 14 percent rate increase — instead of a 7 percent hike — because it underreported its revenues.

While records show Dawson worked with an outside consultant to analyze the error, customers continued to be overcharged until City Attorney Dennis Herrera reached an agreement with Recology last month to reverse the erroneous portion of the rate increase and repay customers.

DPW spokesperson Rachel Gordon said, “Julia Dawson has retired from city service on her own accord.”

“There are ongoing investigations related to the Recology rate setting process and to this date we have seen no evidence that Julia Dawson was involved in criminal wrongdoing,” Gordon said.

John Porter, the former Recology executive who discussed the revenue error with Dawson, has since been charged by federal authorities for allegedly bribing Nuru with a $20,000 donation to a nonprofit.

The alleged bribe was not directly related to the rate-setting process but to fees Recology charged The City for dumping materials, according to the complaint against Porter.

However, the complaint alleged the donation was part of a broader pattern of Recology seeking to “keep Mohammed happy.”

jsabatini@sfexaminer.com

mbarba@sfexaminer.com

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