​SUD Pursues Amending Founding Act

by Leslie Lytle, Messenger Staff Writer

At the Dec. 10 meeting, the Sewanee Utility District Board of Commissioners voted to ask the Tennessee legislature to amend the act that established the utility. The board also approved a slate of candidates for the upcoming commissioner election, and considered a bill adjustment request.

According to SUD manager Ben Beavers, a 1994 legislative act “recreated” the utility to allow for providing service to both Franklin and Marion counties. The act stipulates: “No member [of the board of commissioners] may serve more than two consecutive terms.”

“It’s a shame when you have people willing to serve who cannot stand for office,” said Board President Charlie Smith.

Tennessee Association of Utility Districts attorney Don Scholes advised the board the best course of action to follow to remove the term limit restriction was to ask the state legislature to amend the act and delete the term-limit language.

Smith will contact district representative Iris Rudder to make the request on SUD’s behalf.

Only eight Tennessee utilities elect commissioners, Beavers said, and most of those do not have term limits. The requested amendment will only affect SUD, since the act stipulates a number-of-residents range that applies only to SUD.

The board nominated the following slate of candidates for the upcoming commissioner election: Beeler Brush, Doug Cameron, and “Railroad” Bill Crescenzo. Voting begins Jan. 2 during regular business hours at the SUD office and continues until the Jan. 28 commissioner meeting.

The board took up a water bill adjustment request from a customer with a $3,500 bill due to an irrigation line leak. The leak resulted in a 28,000 gallon-per-day water loss over 11 days. The customer’s written appeal stated a coupling coming unglued caused the leak. The customer maintained this occurred because of increased water pressure following SUD’s recent replacement of aging, constricted cast iron water lines.

“Changing the flow doesn’t change the pressure,” Beavers stressed. Beavers also noted SUD leak insurance does not cover irrigation meters. “I told the customer the only way the board could grant an adjustment is if SUD doesn’t follow the adjustment policy.”

The policy states: “If an investigation of the meter and meter record establishes that the meter was properly read and that there was no failure of utility equipment, the bill will remain valid and payable.”

“It’s unfortunate,” Commissioner Paul Evans said. “But it’s a straight black-and-white policy thing.”

“We reviewed the customer’s appeal, and nothing warrants policy changes,” Smith said. “The policy was followed.”