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MUD accepts utility manager’s resignation

Posted on Wednesday, December 19, 2018 at 10:51 am

The Metro Utility Board accepted the resignation of Utility Manager Rick Garland at their regularly scheduled meeting Monday. The board also named Assistant Manager Ronnie Cunningham to serve as interim manager until proper job posting and interviews can take place. In other business the board reviewed an order recently received from the Tennessee Water and Wastewater Financing Board regarding the “financially distressed status” of the Metro Moore County Utility Department (MUD). The state board has ordered MUD to seek qualified experts to aid with several departmental issues including rate structuring, meter policies and asset planning and projection. The department has hired Mary Warner Beard, CPA to aid in this process and will seek guidance from other state agencies as ordered. The Utility Board also addressed a Notice of Violation received from the Department of Environment and Conservation Division of Water Resources for not having a certified Collection System Grade 1 Operator at the Waste Water Treatment plant. The board confirmed from employees that the department has not had certified personnel in place for three years. As required by the Notice, the Utility Board submitted a corrective plan of action to begin immediately. The Metro Utility Board consists of five new members recently appointed by Metro Mayor Bonnie Lewis from the Metro Council membership. Lewis commented, “Board Chairman Shawn Adams, Vice Chair Keith Moses, members Sunny Rae Moorehead, Gerald Burnett and Meghan Bailey have all stepped up to the plate to handle some very difficult decisions right off the bat.” She continued, “All of these board members have had to take a crash course in governing a utility department while learning of longtime shortcomings that required immediate action. The responsibility they have taken on in addition to their Metro Council duties are commendable.” Lewis explained, “As of this year, a new state law requires newly elected Metro Council members to complete orientation training within 120 days of the election and seven hours of continued education every year. In addition to that training, another new state law requires utility board members to acquire 12 hours of annual training. All new council members have completed their orientation training and three of the new utility board members will begin their training next week.” Mayor Lewis concluded, “In addition to the work the board members are putting forth to correct the department, the employees are all working diligently to follow requirements mandated by the state. Office Manager Brooke Fanning has effectively communicated with employees, state offices, utility board members and the Mayor’s office during the transitions.” Lewis continued, “As difficult as some of this is to understand, it is important that Moore County residents understand that the quality of our drinking water has never been in question.” She said, “Gene Johnson, Chief Certified Operator of Water Treatment in Moore County assured the board members that in his 28 years he has been at the water plant, ‘We have never had a Notice of Violation like this before.’” Board Chairman Shawn Adams noted that the board appreciated Garland’s years of service with the department and appreciated all of the employees’ efforts to set operations back on track.