Tensions between the county, Water and Sewerage Authority, and Rockdale Water Resources drag on as disagreement flares over a joint task force report — a report once hoped to resolve some of these tensions.
The Authority board voted unanimously Thursday, minus member Tom Fox who was not present, to recommend the report produced by the joint task force and not the version revised and released by Commission Chairman Richard Oden.
The report outlined the sources of authority and roles of the Authority and Rockdale Water Resources in moving forward past a six-month stalemate between the two entities. While the two reports were largely similar, the Chairman's version left out many requirements for RWR to provide information to the Authority and required that the Authority report to RWR in some cases.
The Authority board added two amendments in Thursday morning's unanimous vote which included informing all Board of Commission members.
Authority chairman Elaine Nash said she had made it clear in her meeting with Oden, with Wicks present, that she disagreed with the stipulation against communicating with the part time commissioners.
“I had a problem with that,” she said. “If the commission has to vote on something, I want to make sure if we don't agree, the commission at least has the rationale. That would mean we could at least communicate with the Board of Commissioners.”
She said she also made it clear she did not speak for the whole Authority until there was a formal vote made by the Authority.
The joint task force - made of RWR Director Dwight Wicks, Chief of Staff Greg Pridgeon, and Authority members Phyllis Turner and Bill Murrain - was called together by Oden to look at the source of authority and roles for each entity. They produced a report at the end of March. The Chairman issued his own version in mid-June.
Murrain aired his take on the two reports. “It's not the Chairman's authority to render what the role of the Authority is.”
“While we can delegate we cannot give away the thing that makes us who and what we are. We're established to maintain the water system. We take certain fiduciary oversight responsibilities which were given to us by the state legislature. It's important we keep that authority sequence in mind,” Murrain said, referring to the lease that delegates the operations of the plants and water and sewer system to the county.
“It does not mean the Water and Sewer Authority becomes a figurehead.”
But in an olive branch, Murrain and member Darrell Thomas asked for the Authority board to take back part of last month’s resolution where the Authority called for the Board of Commissioners to terminate Wicks’ contract in December, when it expired. Murrain’s motion asked that the advertisement for the position still go forward.
Member Garvin Haynes asked that it be tabled until the next meeting to give the full board, including Tom Fox, a chance to be present.
“I have second thoughts about that. I think it was out of place to make that recommendation,” said Murrain, after the meeting. Murrain had voted with the rest of the Authority board in support of that resolution last month. “(Wicks) has met a lot of milestones… There’s been a lot of communication issues between him and the Authority, but with calmer heads that can be overcome.”