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MONDAY, MAY 30, 2005
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EDITORIAL

Secrecy doesn’t help reassure the public

An accountant for the Limestone County Water and Sewer Authority thinks it needs to avoid "undue media attention" to financial matters.

Certified public accountant Annette Barnes wrote a letter that she probably didn't want passed on to the media, but it was. "I feel very strongly that matters concerning day to day operations are more appropriately discussed in a work session," she wrote.

She said one news report about spending was wrong, and "I respectfully suggest that future matters of this nature be discussed in a forum conducive to accomplishing the mutual goal of informing the board of accounting and compliance issues without undue media attention."

Board attorney Jim Moffatt offered suggestions as to how members could receive financial information without getting into a public discussion.

This is the same board that provoked a public outcry a few months ago by giving $500 Christmas bonuses to 46 employees, plus a $15,000 bonus to the then-manager, while pondering a rate increase. This board needs to raise the public's confidence that it can spend prudently, and secrecy will accomplish just the opposite.

Board member Mark Yarbrough of Ardmore has a good idea. He asked that the board start reviewing monthly statements at its public meetings. But the board voted 3-2 not to, and to allow its auditors to continue reviewing credit card charges, expense reports and telephone bills.

You'd think board members would want to be involved in monitoring expenditures. For them to do it openly would only be reassuring to customers and the public.

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