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Tue, Mar 28, 2017 10:46 PM
Wednesday, March 8, 2017 issue
Utilities commission balks at plans to match funds
by Chris McDavid

Johnson County Bureau

PAINTSVILLE — A Paintsville Utilities commissioner balked at plans Monday to earmark a portion of matching funds for the Teays Branch spec building project for the contractor — the utility board's chairman.

Referring to a pending legal suit between the city of Paintsville and the utility board chair Bunk Goggans, who is also the project contractor, utility commissioner David Estep said it would be better for the city to make all project payment arrangements "in light of everything going on with this."

The initial recommendation was for the utility company to approve two draw down requests by the Big Sandy Area Development District and the contractor, and write the checks directly to the Big Sandy ADD and Goggans.

At the start of the meeting, board attorney Scott Preston reiterated his opinion that Goggans can continue serving as an active participant in the meetings until a ruling is made on the pending lawsuit, which involves claims that a personal conflict exists for the Goggans to be the contractor for a project partially funded by the agency he serves on as the chairman.

Preston noted Monday Goggans had agreed to not participate in the meetings "at this time"...as requested by the city council.

Goggans did not actively participate in the meeting, other than by conducting the regular session. He also remained silent as fellow commissioners questioned the proper handling of his payment request.

Commissioner George Auxier asked if the city had to also approve the payment, and was advised that the payment request would have to be sent to council for approval.

After concerns were raised by Estep, who suggested passing the buck to city council, Preston said the issue was a "technical procedure" and "it's still the city money," regardless of whether the city council or utility board writes the check.

Discussion about giving council the request for payment revealed that checks could not be written before a month delay.

Estep made a motion that the utility company write a check to the city and council address the payment requests. Auxier seconded the motion, which passed unanimously with commissioner Doug Hamilton not present and Goggans not participating in voting.

The spec building is reportedly 65 percent complete with just days before the project's deadline completion date — which was extended late last year by council. Council has indicated it may enforce penalties if the project is not complete by the April 15 deadline.

In another matter, superintendent Larry Herald reported to the board that the utility company's 201 Wastewater facilities Plan would be out of compliance in October.

Herald said the utility company needed to hire someone to revise the 20-year plan.

The utility superintendent said that "without this" (the wastewater facilities plan) the utility company "can't do any projects."

"We can run gas lines," Herald said, "but we can't run water or sewer...You can't do anything without that."

Herald suggested the Kentucky Rural Water revise the plan, which he says cost between $80,000 and $90,000 two decades ago. He did not say how much the plan revision could cost today.

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