Water board battles

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 18, 2002

A member of the Selma Water Works and Sewer board says a majority of that board wants “new leadership.”

After a Monday morning meeting, board member Sam Randolph said he and Selma City Council members Glen Sexton and B.L. Tucker want Chairman Billy Hicks removed as chairman of the board.

“Three of the board members said it’s time to make a change,” Randolph said.

Sexton would not comment on the board meeting.

“Everything we did was in executive session, and it’s not something we can discuss,” Sexton said.

Randolph disagreed. “That’s something we did after the executive session,” he said. “It was all out in the open.”

According to Randolph, Selma’s water board has lost its credibility after an ethics investigation and discrimination charges.

“We’ve got eight employees who say they’ve been discriminated against, and I’ve already had to testify in front of the ethics commission,” Randolph said.

According to Randolph, Hicks stormed out of the room during the meeting, and the fifth member of the board, Marvin Melton, left shortly after.

“I’m not sure what we’re going to do now,” Randolph said. “I don’t even know if [Hicks and Melton] are still on the board.”

Hicks declined to comment on the meeting, though he did comment on Randolph’s assertion.

“I’ve been out fishing with my grandsons all afternoon,” Hicks said. “I don’t have anything to say, but what Randolph said is a lie.”

Ever since Mayor James Perkins was elected in October 2000, the water board has fought bitterly over procedure and precedent. On Dec. 19, 2000, Perkins was fired — for the second time — from the water board and has never been reinstated. Former Mayor Joe Smitherman served as chairman of the water board during most of his tenure, and upon departure from the board, the chairman was paid a $25,000 yearly salary.

In March 2001, the FBI got involved in allegations against the water board. One allegation stemmed from the pay board members receive for their positions.

According to Randolph, Hicks is paid $26,000 a year for his position as chairman, and Marvin Melton is paid $14,400. However, he said state law allows utility board members to receive just $125 a month.

“The city council passed an ordinance that allows us to be paid $350 a month, and I’m the only one who gets that salary,” he said. “All the other members are paid too much.”