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Water-sewer panel against own idea

3/16/2012

By MEGHAN PITTMAN
The Brunswick News

State Reps. Alex Atwood, Roger Lane and Jason Spencer could find an unhappy email in their in boxes today.

The sender: the Brunswick-Glynn County Joint Water-Sewer Commission. It doesn't like what the state delegation has done with the changes it wants to make in the selection and payment of future utility board members.

The three legislators sponsored House Bill 1271, which would amend the local act that created the water-sewer commission and change the composition of it. The bill is a dramatic change from what was developed and approved in February by the utility board, Brunswick City Commission and Glynn County Commission.

During a regular utility board meeting Thursday, the five members voted to inform Atwood, R-St. Simons Island, Lane, R-St. Simons Island, and Spencer, R-Woodbine, of their displeasure with the changes the three are proposing.

Changes to what the utility board had sought included the removal of a $500 monthly stipend for the two city and county commissioners officials who would serve on a new seven-member board. The stipends remain for five citizen members.

"This is not what the city, county and joint water-sewer commission approved," said Glynn County Commissioner Clyde Taylor, who chairs the utility board.

The city commissioner and the county commissioner who would serve on the board deserve the extra compensation, said city commissioner Cornell Harvey, a member of the utility board. The $500 would be in addition to what elected officials already receive for serving on the city or county commission.

"You spend more of your time if you're on this board, and there's more you have to do, so there's no reason (commissioners) shouldn't get that," Cornell said.

Another change put into the bill by the state delegation that the utility board does not approve of is the manner in which citizen representatives would be appointed to the board.

Under the legislation, a county grand jury would directly deal with the applications and appointments of the three citizen representatives who would be required to meet certain qualifications. The other two citizen representatives would be elected by voters every four years, during a state general election.

The board wanted to have the final say on appointees, under its proposal.

The final problem with the bill would wipe the slate of commissioners clean beginning Jan. 1, 2013.

Under the utility board's submitted resolution, two of the four city and county commissioners now serving would remain on the board for continuity.

The board said it would notify representatives that the changes to the proposed amendment are unacceptable. Each commissioner will submit an individual critique that will be included in a formal statement.

"We'll provide them with our critique ... but ultimately it's still their ball game," Taylor said.

Other members of the utility board are City Commissioner James Brooks, County Commissioner Bob Coleman and citizen Tony Sammons, district manager for Georgia Power Co.

In other business, the commission:

* Approved a $40,000 contract with the Washington based BK Painters for Academy Creek murals.

* Renewed until June 30 its lease of the old Barnett Bank building at 700 Gloucester St., Brunswick.

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