City drops action against Water Board

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 20, 2003

It looks like the Selma Water Works and Sewer Board is in the clear &045;&045; at least with one possible legal action against it.

At Monday’s meeting of the water board, Gary Thompson &045;&045; attorney representing the board &045;&045; said the city of Selma had recently dropped its declaratory judgment against it.

According to a May 9 memorandum from Mayor James Perkins Jr., the city council requested Selma City Attorney Jimmy Nunn file the declaratory action against the board more than a year ago. Perkins wanted to determine if the board had any responsibility for maintaining sewer lines within the city.

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The water board is only responsible for the water and sewer plants, pumping stations and the main sewer line running along Water Avenue, said Billy Hicks, water board chairman. It isn’t responsible for lateral lines running north and south into the Water Avenue line, though; a point of contention the declaratory judgment sought to clear.

Hicks said the city had the crews and equipment needed to maintain those lateral lines while the water board didn’t. He estimated it would cost the board millions in additional funds if it was responsible for their upkeep.

In his memorandum, Perkins explained the reasons for dropping the suit.

The EEOC recently handed down a judgment stating the Water Board had discriminated against black employees. In the judgment, the EEOC made it known it would issue &uot;right to sue&uot; letters to those employees allowing them to take legal action against the water board.

The Water Board plans to fight the EEOC’s ruling.

At the Water Board’s April 21 meeting, City Council President George Evans presented a resolution asking the board to resolve its current legal issues without going to court.

Thompson, though, said the EEOC’s offers to settle the issue were unreasonable.

Though Selma City Council members voted to drop the suit against the Water Board, a

hearing on the city’s declaratory judgment is set for May 27 in Fourth Judicial Circuit Court to clarify the issue.