By Heather Mullinix
The Tansi Sewer Utility District board of commissioners voted in January to pay members a per diem for attendance at district meetings, up to 12 meetings each year.
State law provides for payment of a per diem fee for the commissioners of public utilities; however, TSUD commissioners voted in 2010 to forego the payments until such time as the district was better established and financially secure, President James Heath told the board.
Virgil Ferguson, commissioner, said, "We're spending a lot of money going to all these meetings, and it's getting expensive."
Trey Kerley, commissioner, noted that meetings were held on Tuesdays at 4 p.m., requiring him to leave work and miss two hours of time at his job.
"We're one of the only boards that does not have per diem" Kerley added, saying he had checked with surrounding utility districts as far away as Knoxville.
Ferguson moved to pay commissioners a per diem, supported by Kerley. Heath moved to table the motion until next month, and requested motions and resolutions come to the board in written form. The motion did not receive support and the original motion passed with Ferguson and Kerley in favor and Heath opposed.
Ferguson then moved to pay commissioners $150 per meeting, up to 12 meetings per year. Kerley suggested the rate be set at $100, which he believed to be the amount the state would allow based on the number of customers the district serves. Ferguson agreed and changed his motion. Kerley seconded the motion which passed with Heath voting no.
Last month, the board, which is required to meet only quarterly, agreed to continue meeting on a monthly basis to help keep customers informed of changes related to ongoing litigation and a proposed merger with the city of Crossville.
The board voted to accept a map of sewer service lines and grinder pump locations prepared by Chris Selk of Chris Selk Construction, the district's maintenance contractor.
Selk identified 24 grinder pumps.
Heath updated the board on the status of lawsuits filed against the district by the Lake Tansi Property Owners Association and ECE engineering firm. There has been no news on the status of either lawsuit in the past month, Heath said, and added the board had not received information from their attorney as to the status of a settlement offered to the POA to return the sewer plant and other assets.
Richard Cahill, vice president of the POA board of directors, said the POA had rejected that proposal due to language that would require the POA to hold TSUD harmless for past and future actions.
"We said that was unacceptable," he told the TSUD board.
Yet neither entity reports any new information from their attorneys.
Next month, the board will consider changes to its rules and regulations and contracts with commercial customers regarding responsibility for maintenance of grinder pumps. The current rules and contracts do not address questions that have been raised concerning routine maintenance of commercial grinder pumps.