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Delegation goes forward with water-sewer bill

3/22/2012

By MEGHAN PITTMAN
The Brunswick News

State Sen. William Ligon, R-Waverly, says complaints against the bill that will give Glynn County voters a voice on the composition of the water-sewer utility board has not led him or other members of the state delegation to reconsider the legislation.

The changes include increasing from five to seven the number of members on the Brunswick-Glynn County Joint Water-Sewer Commission.

"The delegation worked hard on the bill, after hearing the various opinions of the public," Ligon said. "This is what we've put together, and there has been no move to change it...no discussion."

House Bill 1271, passed by the state House of Representatives Tuesday, was introduced by Rep. Alex Atwood, R- St. Simons Island, and signed by Reps. Roger Lane, R-St. Simons, and Jerry Spencer, R-Woodbine. The bill the three drafted differs from the proposed resolution approved by the utility board and city and county commissions.

Ligon said the bill is slated to reach the floor of the Senate on Monday.

Tony Sammons, a member of the water-sewer board and district manager for Georgia Power Co., said Wednesday the board is not going to give up trying to appeal to the delegation to amend the legislation.

Sammons said the utility board takes issue with how the five citizen representatives would be appointed to the board. HB 1271 gives voters an option: either have all five representatives appointed by the grand jury or have three citizens who meet qualifications appointed and let the public vote on the remaining two.

The other two posts on the board would be filled by one city commissioner and one county commissioner.

"We're not trying to keep (the voters) from having any input, but we're trying to get the most qualified people to sit on this board," Sammons said. "We cannot put requirements on qualifications if they are elected. We're trying to operate on a broader perspective that would allow us to make intelligent decisions and do our job for the betterment of the Joint Water and Sewer customers."

Sammons is not the only member of the utility board who feels that way. Board chair Clyde Taylor, also a member of the Glynn County Commission, said if the bill continues to make its way through the Senate, the board could take to the campaign trail.

"We would want to inform the citizens that this is not what we proposed and what this would mean," Taylor said.

Whether the utility board would move to ask citizens to vote for Option No. 2, to allow all citizen representatives to be appointed by the grand jury, or to vote against the legislation altogether is something it would discuss when or if the time comes.

Electing members would politicize the board, which utility commission members want to prevent.

"We think the best deal is to take it out of the political realm, to get a completely independent body to handle it," Taylor said.

Breakout:

Rep. Alex Atwood's House Bill 1271 will be a two-part vote on changing the make-up and selection process of the Brunswick-Glynn County Joint Water and Sewer Commission.

Question 1 will ask the voters to approve the changes to the joint commission.

Question 2 will ask the voter to chose between two options.

Option 1 allows for the Glynn County Grand Jury to appoint three of the citizen representatives, and for the Glynn County voters to elect the remaining two citizen representatives.

Option 2 allows for the grand jury to appoint all five citizen representatives.

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