Smith re­signs from Wa­ter Util­ity

El Dorado News-Times - - Front Page - By Tia Lyons Staff Writer

The city’s wa­ter util­i­ties is un­der­go­ing sev­eral changes, in­clud­ing a va­cancy in the gen­eral man­ager’s seat.

For­mer gen­eral man­ager Mark Smith re­signed July 18, the day af­ter a spe­cial meet­ing in which the El Do­rado City Coun­cil voted to abol­ish the El Do­rado Wa­ter and Sewer Com­mis­sion.

Al­der­men voted 7-1 to dis­solve the com­mis­sion af­ter cit­ing on­go­ing is­sues and com­plaints with the El Do­rado Wa­ter Util­i­ties, in­clud­ing poor cus­tomer ser­vice and in­ef­fi­ciency in com­plet­ing re­pairs.

Af­ter a lengthy dis­cus­sion, the coun­cil voted to dis­solve the five-mem­ber wa­ter and sewer com­mis­sion and es­tab­lish a wa­ter ad­vi­sory board.

Al­der­man Billy Blann voted against the mea­sure. While he agreed that the city needs to ad­dress is­sues with the wa­ter util­i­ties, Blann said he wanted to see a plan of how the city would op­er­ate the util­i­ties be­fore abol­ish­ing the com­mis­sion.

The Depart­ment of Pub­lic Works now has over­sight of the wa­ter util­i­ties, and the ad­vi­sory board will take rec­om­men­da­tions and is­sues to Robert Ed­monds, di­rec­tor of pub­lic works.

When nec­es­sary, Ed­monds will for­ward the in­for­ma­tion to the city coun­cil for a vote and dis­cus­sion.

No rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the El Do­rado Wa­ter Util­i­ties at­tended the spe­cial meet­ing.

Smith and Pete Parks, for­mer chair­man of the wa­ter and sewer com­mis­sion, said nei­ther the com­mis­sion­ers nor util­i­ties’ em­ploy­ees were no­ti­fied about the meet­ing.

The fol­low­ing day, Smith turned in his res­ig­na­tion and the keys to his city-is­sued ve­hi­cle, Ed­monds and Mayor Frank Hash said.

“He said he didn’t think he could work with the way — with the way Mr. Ed­monds thought things could be done,” Hash said.

“He was not asked to re­sign. There was no threat­en­ing to fire him or any­thing like that,” Ed­monds said.

Smith de­clined to com­ment on the mat­ter “at

this time.”

Buddy Kin­ney, di­rec­tor of op­er­a­tions for the El Do­rado Wa­ter Util­i­ties, has been named in­terim gen­eral man­ager.

Ed­monds said city of­fi­cials are wait­ing un­til the wa­ter ad­vi­sory board is formed to be­gin the search for a per­ma­nent re­place­ment.

City Clerk Heather McVay said she has re­ceived sev­eral re­quests for ap­pli­ca­tions to serve on the ad­vi­sory board,

though no ap­pli­ca­tions had been sub­mit­ted by late Thurs­day af­ter­noon.

The city coun­cil has not set a dead­line to sub­mit ap­pli­ca­tions for the ad­vi­sory board, though Hash sug­gested a time­frame of 30 days from July 17, the day the wa­ter and sewer com­mis­sion was dis­solved.

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