City officials fired back at the DeKalb Utility District Monday night after receiving a letter from DUD officials claiming that City Attorney Vester Parsley, Jr. and Secretary-Treasurer Hunter Hendrixson have not provided the aldermen with "full and accurate information" concerning the DUD's position on the water cost study
"I take a little offense at that," said Parsley during Monday night's city council meeting.
City officials, during the last meeting on February 4 complained that DUD had decided not to pay for half the cost of a water study, as the utility had allegedly previously agreed to do in correspondence with the city.
The DUD letter, signed by Board Chairman Roger Turney and manager Jon Foutch, sent over the weekend to city officials including each alderman points out that the DUD was willing, in a proposed water purchase contract, to share in the expense of a Cost of Service Study with the city as long as both parties agreed on an unbiased and independent entity to perform the study, which is being done to determine the actual cost to the city of producing water. Results of the study are expected to help determine rates the city charges the DUD in any future water purchase contract agreement. Even if DUD builds its own water treatment plant, the utility will apparently still need a new contract with the city to serve some areas.
The city chose Warren & Associates to do the study at a cost of $7,500. DUD officials claim Warren & Associates is not unbiased since officials of that company are expected to be called as expert witnesses in the Utility Management Review Board (DUD rate review) proceeding on April 4 in Smithville and will be presenting evidence against the DUD on behalf of the City of Smithville.
Parsley insists both he and Hunter Hendrixson have kept the mayor and aldermen informed on all issues regarding the DUD and takes offense with the DUD for suggesting otherwise. "Hunter and I received a letter from the Chairman of the DUD and Mr. Jon Foutch which implied that Hunter and I had not been informing the board correctly about issues involving DUD. I certainly take a little offense at that because I know that the mayor and I have talked many times and we've brought it to your attention here as a board many times about issues as they are brought up. It wasn't at every board meeting because we didn't have something to bring up. But Hunter and the mayor and I have talked several times about various issues. Those (issues) that we felt like were important to bring to the board, I know we brought to the board's attention. I just wanted to clarify that. If anyone at the board here ever needs to talk to me about any issue with DUD you know my line is always open. My office is always open and I would be willing to talk to you at any time. I'm sure Hunter would say the same. You folks (mayor and aldermen), I'm working for you and whatever you want me to do I'll do and anytime you've asked me to write a letter, I've written a letter. I just wanted to clarify that," said Parsley.
"I was really disturbed at the way they (DUD) talked about you and Hunter," said Alderman Danny Washer. "Right off the bat, I didn't like it and you (Parsley and Hendrixson) have been up front with us. You have discussed everything with us. If I've had any questions you have always been open with us. We've been after this for a long time. It just seems like it just gets passed around. They (DUD) don't want to cooperate with us. We've been up front but they're not wanting to work with us on this. Its kind of like a smoke screen to me. They just keep putting it off and putting it off. I appreciate all the information you have given us. You have kept up informed with everything. I really respect the information you give us. I trust it. I don't like what I'm getting in the mail from them (DUD). I took offense to it and it wasn't even directed at me. But we're all part of the board and what reflects on yall (Parsley and Hendrixson) reflects on us" said Washer.
Meanwhile, Hendrixson said Warren & Associates is proceeding with the water cost study and should be finished soon. "I talked Friday with Warren & Associates. I think they are going to be up here one day this week to collect a little more data. I think they're getting pretty close to having a pretty accurate number. They won't give me any numbers yet which is fine until they are completely done. I'm hoping by the next meeting we'll have a cost of water survey completed and we'll know where we stand not only with DUD in negotiating a contract with them but also so we know where we are as a city and if we are charging our city customers too much. We'll know how to plan better if we need a rate increase or leave as is so hopefully in the next several weeks we'll have a number to go by which is long overdue," said Hendrixson.