AG may investigate water board

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 7, 2002

The state ethics commission Wednesday referred a complaint involving the Selma Water and Sewer Board to the state attorney general for investigation of possible criminal misconduct concerning the salaries paid to members of that board.

Alabama Ethics Commission Director James Sumner said the complaint, filed by Lee Goodwin, a Selma resident, has been referred to the attorney general’s office for further review and possible presentation to a grand jury.

The ethics commission forwarded the names of board members William &uot;Billy&uot; Hicks, Marvin Melton and Glenn Sexton for investigation. Sumner said the commission plans further review before reaching a conclusion in the case of board members Sam Randolph and B.L. Tucker.

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Sumner said the board members face possible charges of violating the state law against using a public office for personal gain.

According to Sumner, state law allows water boards which set the salaries of their own members to pay the chairman up to $125 a month and individual board members up to $100 a month. Board members may receive a higher amount if approved by the local city council.

In 1989, the Selma City Council did approve paying water board members $350 a month. During a City Council meeting in September, however, Councilwoman Rita Franklin introduced a resolution which she said was meant to &uot;clarify&uot; the salaries received by board members. That resolution called for Hicks, the board chairman, to continue receiving $2,125 a month; Melton, the secretary-treasurer, to continue receiving $1,625 a month; and at large board members Sexton, Tucker and Randolph to continue receiving $800 a month.

The council tabled the resolution.

Sumner said any effort by the city council to retroactively approve an increase in pay for water board members would have no effect on the current investigation.

Goodwin said he filed the ethics complaint in October 2001 because of concerns that board members were receiving excessive fees.

Selma city attorney Jimmy Nunn said, &uot;The board itself has increased the salaries over the years. But by law the City Council is the only one that can raise those salaries.&uot;

Nunn indicated that the city would likely request an attorney general’s opinion before deciding which further steps to take.