Rockwood may abolish water board

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By Cheryl Duncan, Assistant Editor

Rockwood City Council has been called into special session on Tuesday to deal with the abolishment of the city’s water, sewer and natural gas board.

The meeting is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. in Rockwood City Hall.

The council approved an ordinance on first reading Sept. 20 that calls for the disbandment of the board that governs the three city-owned utilities. Second and final reading of that ordinance, which stipulates the board’s duties would be turned over to council, is among the business on Tuesday’s meeting agenda.

Also on the agenda is consideration and possible action to form a committee to assume the board’s duties.

The board and water officials have recently come under scrutiny after a Tennessee Comptroller’s Office official ruled that the operations violated state law by allowing unapproved interdepartmental loans between the three operations. Chiefly, funds from the more profitable gas department were being borrowed to cover water and sewer operating costs. Estimates place the amount at $1.3 million.

The Comptroller’s Office has also stipulated that the funds should be repaid over five years, with a repayment plan submitted to the state within 60 days of receipt of a letter e-mailed to the city on Sept. 8.

The water board approved a budget last week that included no repayment plan. The budget is contingent on an almost-18-percent water rate increase for customers who use more than 1,500 gallons of water per month. Water officials said that budget would give the troubled utility a bottom line of $149,728.