- Family Features
- Business Directory
- Gallery Of Homes
- Subscribe Now!
- Place A Classified Ad
- New! Digital e-Edition
Candidates for Wilson mayor debate water authority bill
Mar 21, 2006 12:00 am
March 15, 2006
Wilson County Mayor Robert Dedman said Tuesday he is taking a "wait and see" approach to proposed legislation that would grant county lawmakers oversight of the county water and wastewater authority though his opponent for the fall endorsed the measure.
Prior to the recent controversy surrounding the water authority's efforts to aid a Mt. Juliet homebuilder come into compliance with county zoning regulations, Dedman said the utility had operated without any problems.
"It had been running pretty good up until then," Dedman said.
And now that legislation granting the county oversight of the authority is in the hands of the Tennessee General Assembly, Dedman said he will wait until state lawmakers vote on the measure.
"There's some people that wants the county to take it over, and there's some people that doesn't. So, I thought I would wait and see what the state would do, and then go from there," Dedman said. "If they say it's in the county's hands, we will have to correct it and go forward."
Still, the debate over the utility's powers and what State Rep. Susan Lynn and State Sen. Mae Beavers have referred to as a lack of accountability when it comes to the water authority showed little sign of slowing Tuesday.
Talk of the legislation is so heated in fact, Phillip Warren, Dedman's opponent in the county's Aug. 3 election, said he believes the proposed bill will "absolutely" become an issue in the race for county mayor.
Warren publicly endorsed the legislation Tuesday and said "accountability is very important" as the utility oversees water and wastewater services countywide.
"There's some real serious questions about accountability that are coming to the surface right now … I think eminent domain is a tremendous problem that we're looking at with them," Warren said. "There's no oversight there. It's unchecked. Nobody's accountable for taking peoples' property. That should be reserved for a legislative body."
Under the proposed legislation, sponsored by Lynn and Beavers, the utility's use of eminent domain power would first require a nod of approval from the Wilson County Commission. Oversight of the water authority's annual audits and rule-making procedures would also fall to commissioners.
Dedman noted Tuesday the bill had been put on hold and would not be introduced to legislators until next week. Lynn said earlier this week she elected to "roll" the bill because of a request from a private company which oversees installation and maintenance of septic systems on behalf of the water authority.
"Has the state made a decision yet on it? I think it's in their ballpark to designate which way they want it to go, and I understand they have deferred it until next week," Dedman said.
State statutes allow county legislative bodies to establish water and wastewater utilities but does not provide for any oversight to the legislative body, Lynn said recently.
Ultimately, Warren concluded, the county should have some oversight of the utility in an effort to ensure continued residential and commercial growth proceeds in a controlled fashion.
"I think it's a very important part of why I'm running," Warren said of the issue's place in his campaign. "… The water authority was created for the public good, and it needs to be accountable to the public through their representatives, the County Commission and the county mayor."
Staff Writer Brian Harville can be reached at 444-3952 ext. 16 or by e-mail at email@example.com.