David Waishes, President of Avalon Water and Sewer Service Corp., accepted Dean Carrell’s resignation on Thursday night during their monthly meeting.
“Dean, you called me on July 1st and told me you were resigning at tonight’s meeting, and you did not contact me again, so I am accepting your resignation. You told me you were going to terminate your contract and I am formally accepting your resignation,” Waishes said.
“After I talked to you, I talked to Jimmy Brown,” Carrell answered.
Waishes again told Carrell he accepted his resignation and asked him to tender his keys and any other equipment or documents belonging to the corporation. Carrell complied and left the meeting.
At the beginning of the meeting, during visitor concerns and comments, Robert Morgan addressed the board and brought in a picture of his water meter. He asked for clarity on the readings on his bill. He said it looked like a lot of usage to him. Dean Carrell explained the TCEQ guidelines for average water usage per person per month. Waishes said they would research his bill for accuracy and give him answers as soon as possible.
Candice Brewster spoke to the board for the second month regarding questions on her bill. She stated she paid $255 cash on April 29 in the drop box at the fire department, but her statement only reflected $147 paid. She said she is also still being charged $20 late fees.
“Last month I addressed the board about the late charges and Dean Carrell told me he would check it out and get back with me. I have not heard anything.”
“We will look into this as soon as possible and we will do whatever it takes to straighten this out,” Waishes answered. “We will go item by item on your payment history with you and get it straight. We do not want anyone paying with cash any longer. ”
Robert Morgan told the board he had a similar issue. He paid his bill at the office to Mrs. Carrell in cash around April 29th and his payment record showed it was $142 less than his receipt reflected. Because he had a receipt, the issue was corrected on his account.
“I want this on the record,” Dean Carrell said addressing Mr. Morgan. “Don’t you ever threaten my wife again like you did on that message.” Carrell added that they had filed a report with the Ellis County Sheriff’’s Department.
Chris Brewster asked the board if the water quality report that was posted at the post office would be mailed to all members. He was told that the TCEQ did not require it to be mailed, only posted.
“We may not be able to answer all concerns tonight, but we do want all problems resolved and will work to do just that,” Waishes told the members. “We are getting better but we will still have problems and we will do our best to rectify them.”
“We do have a plan in place and we will disclose it after the closed session.” Waishes said.
Carol Gillespie asked the board to do criminal background checks on any prospective employees before they are hired. Waishes said they would consider it.
Refugio Rodriguez with Texas Rural Water explained the recent audit he performed.
“We are a non-profit organization that has a contract with TCEQ,” he explained. “We offer financial, managerial and technical services free of charge. I have the audit, but I am not sure how correct it is. I cannot tell you the numbers are correct that we were given. The numbers Mr. Carrell furnished regarding salaries and depreciation confused me. I did request that he clarify some of the information but he never got back with me.”
Rodriguez explained that the water expenses had to be separated from the waste water expenses. He also told the board that the financial information must be correct if they seek funding from the government. He recommended the board have a workshop to find out the correct accounting figures and then decide where to go from there. He also told them they needed to review their water tariff.
“Our whole board is dedicated and we are looking forward to working with you,” Rickey Johnston told Rodriguez. “It is obvious we have some financial concerns and we will probably have to raise rates. Do we raise our rates a little now and then after the workshop when we have all the correct information make a final determination?”
Rodriguez told the board they would need the correct numbers to make that decision. He told them there was money out there. He suggested that they check with Ellis County to see if they could help Avalon with funding with combined grants.
“Our income averages around $288,000 per year and right now we are at $310,000 in expenses. We want to get control of our expenses, but we also know we are going to have to increase the rates,” Waishes said.
With Dean Carrell’s resignation, the board discussed mutual aid from the City of Italy. It was stated that there was a verbal agreement with the City for mutual aid in case Avalon needed additional manpower. They discussed approaching Ellis County Rural Water and the City of Italy for a written contract for mutual aid.
Greg Rodriguez reported that the board needed to consider adding a lift station at the sewer plant as soon as they can because of the present dry conditions being ideal to install the lift station.
After a short closed session, David Waishes stated because of the current circumstances, they needed someone in the office to handle the day to day operations and the finances. He reported that Ed and Jan Hettinger had volunteered to man the office during this transition time at no cost to the corporation.
“I reviewed financial statements as a credit manager for 45 years,” Ed explained. Jan also worked in the financial field. “We just want to help,” they said.
David Waishes recommended they get the word out that they may hire another full time employee in the near future and are asking anyone that is interested in the job to contact them.
The board stated they do not accept cash any longer and discussed possible alternatives for their members to pay their bills like accepting credit card or debit card payments.
“We don’t want to make it any more difficult on our members,” Waishes stated.
The meeting adjourned at 9:10 p.m.