​SUD Discusses Jan. Board Election

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer
At the Dec. 19 meeting of the Board of Commissioners of the Sewanee Utility District of Franklin and Marion Counties, the board approved a slate of nominees for the January commissioner election. The nominees will seek election to the seat currently held by Commissioner Karen Singer. Singer is term limited and cannot seek reelection.
Preliminary to approval of the slate of candidates, SUD President Charlie Smith updated the board on candidate qualification restrictions. By state law commissioners must step down after serving two consecutive terms. At the November board meeting, the board questioned whether a term-limited commissioner could return after an interlude from service. Smith researched the issue with Don Scholes, legal counsel for the Tennessee Association of Utility Districts.
The Belvidere Utility District had the same question, Scholes said. According to Scholes, a term-limited commissioner can run for office again after sitting out for a period of one term, or four years.
The decision opened the door for approving the nomination of a previous commissioner to seek election.
Smith also looked into changing the state law to remove the term-limit restriction altogether. Tennessee State Representative David Alexander advised Smith “it would take broad community support.”
SUD is one of only eight utility districts who elect commissioners. In the other districts, the commissioners are appointed by the county mayor. Removing the term-limit restriction would allow those who wish to serve to continue on the board indefinitely subject to reelection every four years.
Voting in the commissioner election begins on Jan. 2 and continues through Jan. 23 at the SUD office during regular business hours.
The board also revisited the November discussion about hiring a part-time bookkeeper to satisfy the “segregation of duties” requirement imposed by the Tennessee state comptroller. Typical of small utilities, SUD lacks sufficient office staff to provide the level of oversight required by the state.
Three individuals expressed an interest in the position, Smith said. The board hoped to hire someone before the end of the year to review data from the last quarter, but according to Smith, “it’s not looking likely.”
“We don’t know what the minimum requirement is,” Smith explained. SUD manager Ben Beavers contacted the comptroller for specific information regarding what records and accounts required monthly review. Smith estimated the wage for the position at $150-$200 per month.
Smith welcomed having “a set of eyes outside the SUD office” to review records and accounts. “It would provide protection for both SUD customers and SUD employees.
Beavers announced all the necessary easements for the Midway pressure boosting statements had been granted. The project will provide a much needed increase in water pressure in the Midway community.
“The meter base is in,” Beavers said. “We need to pour the concrete pad and line up inspections.” Beavers anticipates the pressure boosting station will be operational by sometime in February.
The SUD board meets next on Jan. 23. Results of the commissioner election will be announced at that time.