Board minutes not approved

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Marshall County's Board of Public Utilities directors were confronted with a couple of routine matters during their regular meeting in October when they could not take action.

Minutes of the September meeting of the board were not approved because doing so requires a majority of the members of the board and, with one absent and another who'd resigned, the remaining three members didn't unanimously vote to approve the minutes.

It's a vestige of controversy over whether the board should be paying legal services for a member who became the subject of an ethics complaint that's since been resolved in favor of the board member, Mike Waggoner.

Mary Ann Neill, a member of the utility board because she's chairwoman of the county commission, who also chairs the county ethics committee that vindicated Waggoner, sought to have the minutes reflect that Waggoner voted for a motion to have the utility pay for his defense attorney.

"I don't know that it will serve any purpose to have it in the minutes," Director Bill Blalock said.

Neill's motion to amend the minutes to include the statement died for lack of a second.

The minutes of the September meeting were not approved because Neill voted no and Blalock's vote to approve them was joined by Chairman Rocky Bowden but that did not create a number of yes votes that's more than half of the board's membership.

Meanwhile, County Commissioner Mickey King of Cornersville has been appointed by the County Commission to succeed Joe B. Brandon who resigned.

MCBPU Attorney Cecelia Spivey counseled the board that state law calls for such utilities and other entities to provide their board members with legal representation for maters arising from their membership on public panels.

The other issue that the utility directors couldn't resolve arose from a request by Harold Bradford of Lewisburg who owns property in the Archer Community between Ostella and Luna.

"We've been hauling water again," Bradford told the board.

Drought conditions a year earlier prompted the utility to make water available at no charge to people who came and filled tanks.

Bradford's property is not included in the 57-mile water line extension project, but the board has made it clear that if installation of water pipes is achieved with money to spare, then the utility will consider other extension projects.

"Yours is a good project," Bowden told Bradford, "but we've got 57 miles all over the county to finish."

Typically, water line extensions are examined to determine whether they are cost effective, compared to other projects. Cost effectiveness might be measured by the number of customer taps to be added and whether that will increase the average number of customers per mile.

Bradford told the board that there's a physician in Williamson County who's willing to buy 80 acres for development but he won't unless there's water service.

Given that prospect, Bradford told the board that such development would generate revenue for the county because of the adequate facilities tax. It's a fee charged on new construction and calculated per square foot of heated space.

"You're going to get it back," Blalock said of the tax revenue and the payments received directly for water service.

Bowden thanked Bradford for his comments and visit to the board meeting, but replied that the board will make a decision on other water line extensions when its current project is completed.