Water Board audit is reassuring news

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 15, 2003

The Selma Waterworks and Sewer Board got the results of its audit covering the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2002, Monday. Those results were reassuring.

Although the board posted a loss of $318,967 for the year, it is in sound financial condition.

The board faced sharp criticism from some for raising its rates in 2002, although it was the first time in four years that the board has voted to raise rates. The increase is needed to offset planned improvements to our water system and to provide the operating profit necessary to pay down outstanding bonds.

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Knowing that it faced increased costs while the improvements are completed, the board prudently voted to raise rates. That is no more than wise financial management. The audit confirmed that.

The board is to be commended for exercising sound judgment.

Even with the increase in rates, water in Selma remains cheaper than in many surrounding communities, both larger and smaller.

Bountiful natural resources have always been one of this area’s greatest assets; water is the most basic of those natural resources. At a time when many communities are encountering increasing difficulty procuring adequate supplies of safe drinking water at a cost that is affordable, we are blessed.

Having said that, we also look forward to the resolution of what has become the board’s thorn in the side: the ongoing controversy about the salaries paid to board members.

In November, the Alabama Ethics Commission referred a complaint about those salaries to the state attorney general’s office for investigation of possible criminal misconduct.

So out of fairness to members of the board, we call on the state attorney general’s office to resolve this matter with all deliberate speed, in order that any lingering cloud of suspicion hanging over the board may be removed once and for all.