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FRIDAY, JANUARY 7, 2005
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EDITORIAL

Limestone utility board guilty of bad perception

Most people can relate to receiving a Christmas ham from their employer, but not many see a $15,000 bonus from the man in the front office.

That's the reason Limestone County residents are upset with members of their water and sewer authority.

The $500 Christmas bonus going to 46 employees seemed in line to most customers. But that $15,000 bonus for authority director Bobby Chandler is another matter, especially when added to his $100,000 salary.

But that's not the end of this saga that may end the tenure of people who apparently are doing good public service.

The board also was considering asking for a 41-cent increase in the basic water rates. Rates increased 3 percent last year.

Mr. Chandler said the $500 bonuses are justified because of the dedicated work employees do for the more than 15,000 customers throughout the county. Presumably, he includes himself in that group, although board members should speak up and explain their generosity.

Unfortunately, most members have not, leaving customers even hotter. The result is that County Commission Chairman David Seibert wants all members to resign. He says the public lost confidence in them.

One member resigned in November before the flap and one member's term expires March 1. That gives the commission room to realign the authority with new appointments.

In the meanwhile, all people who serve on public boards, whether elected or appointed, should learn from these board members' unfortunate experience.

Perception is reality and these board members are seen as having made a bad decision, in part, because they appear to have been overly generous with public funds.

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