​SUD to Pay Employee Retirement Plan Fee; Earns 97 Percent Sanitary Survey Score

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

At the May 22 meeting, the Board of Commissioners of the Sewanee Utility District (SUD) voted to allocate nearly $9,000 in fees associated with changing retirement plan providers to SUD rather than burdening employees with the fee.
The decision will impact nine employees, SUD manager Ben Beavers said. The fee assessed on each account varies depending on the amount of money in the employee’s retirement fund.
“Since the board initiated the retirement plan change, it seems like we should pay for the damage,” said Board President Charlie Smith.
The board proposed the retirement-plan-provider change to employees last November, citing the 42 percent decrease in administrative fees. Employees favored the change. The board was unaware the current provider would charge a fee to transfer the assets to the new provider.
Beavers said funds to pay the change-over fee were available since SUD currently had one less employee than budgeted for in 2018 and the budget also included unspent funds in the commissioner Planning and Governance category. The Planning and Governance funds would have paid a portion of health insurance premiums for commissioners who used SUD health insurance. No commissioners plan to use the SUD health care plan.
“For younger employees, a deduction for the change-over fee could have a significant long-term effect on growth by pulling money off the top now,” Smith stressed in support of SUD paying the fee.
Turning to the recent state Sanitary Survey, Beavers said SUD lost 15 points out of 599, for a score of 97 percent.
“The most important part of the survey is the water plant and distribution system,” Beavers said. SUD received a perfect score in that area.
All red flags were related to paperwork issues. In one inspection, SUD followed the inspection protocol for a repair rather than the new installation protocol; in documenting line flushing, a computer data transcription error showed faulty data on the report; and SUD neglected to report inspection data on three backflow prevention devices. The results have since been sent to the state.
“We’re back in full compliance,” Beavers said. “I wanted a score of 100 percent.”
Utilities with a score of 75 percent or lower receive an unapproved rating.
SUD also recently received the results of the annual audit, which showed two unexpected red flags.
To remedy the citation for failure to deposit receipts in three business days, SUD implemented a new policy of making deposits daily before 2 p.m. In the past, deposits held over the weekend and made after 2 p.m. on Monday resulted in SUD not meeting the three-day criterion.
SUD also received a citation for failing to have two signatures on all checks due to a circumstance which occurred when Beavers was at a conference. Beavers will review the two-signature requirement policy with office personnel, and board members will update signature cards on file with the bank to authorize them to sign in Beavers’ absence.
The board meets next on June 26.
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