Florala utilities moving to city hall

Published 12:05 am Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The move is beginning immediately to combine the Florala Utilities Board operations with city operations inside the city hall building, board chairman Marvin Williford said Monday.

The group met Friday in a special-called meeting, approving the first steps of the transition that will move the day-to-day operations to city hall from the board’s old Alabama Power building – a site purchased when it split operations with the city in 2005 over a disagreement on board terms for city council members on the board.

The decision marks the start of correcting more than 20 findings uncovered in a recent audit that revealed bad accounting practices discovered after the board’s longtime manager was arrested on theft charges.

Preliminary estimates show the move would save the board approximately $12,000 in facility costs such as utilities.

“Things should have never been split from there to begin with,” Williford said. “I feel good about our decision. It’s going to save us a lot of money.”

Williford said work is to begin retrofitting city hall with more computers, power outlets and phone lines as soon as the city council approves the move. A vote is expected to occur this week.

The board’s accounting will be moved immediately, and office staff will be moved as soon as work is completed, with their supervision placed under the direct responsibility of the city clerk, he said.

Field staff will combine duties and equipment with the city street department to better utilize equipment and work time, Williford said.

“That way we can get more done and everyone knows what’s going on,” he said.

And a new public works director could be hired soon.

“I think that is probably be what happens eventually,” Williford said.

He said the board’s goal is to have the transition completed within six months.

Until the move to city hall is complete, residents should continue to pay their bills at the board’s current location.