Changes begin

Published 11:50 pm Thursday, October 2, 2008

The Andalusia Utilities Board unanimously approved changes to its by-laws that would expand the board to six members with the mayor serving as its chairman. The changes must first be ratified by the city council.

Utilities Board chairman Ricky Jones opened Thursday night’s special called meeting by explaining that the proposed changes do three things, including:

Expanding the board to six members with the mayor serving as chairman, and the chairman being responsible for general oversight of the business and affairs of the board. The general manager reports to the chairman.

Limits the power of the chairman, stating that the chairman must follow the budget adopted by the board and can expend no unbudgeted funds approved in a resolution by the board.

Defines who will represent Andalusia on the board of PowerSouth. The chairman of the Utilities Board (mayor) will serve as one of the city’s two members Power South board members; the longest-serving member of the Utilities Board will serve as the second member, rotating every two years. At present, the council determines who will serve on the PowerSouth board at the beginning of each term.

“This I the way it needs to be,” Jones said.

He added the changes can only be implemented if approved by the city council.

Newly-elected Mayor Earl Johnson, who takes office Nov. 3, said there are many reasons the changes are needed; first among them, “the buck stops in the mayor’s office.”

“I’ve sat in the mayor’s chair before, and I know when a problem arises, the public expects the mayor to get things done,” he said.

He said the structure also will take some of the politics out of council members jockeying for positions on board. Every four years, the council designates two members of the PowerSouth board, one member of the Southeast Alabama Gas District board, two members of the city Utilities Board, and a member of the Planning Commission. All of the appointments are paid positions except the Planning Commission.

Utilities Board members asked that the proposals be considered at Tuesday night’s council meeting.