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WHWS Board Votes for New Management Agreement

Please see the letter below from WHWS Board President Lloyd Heard:

Dear Members,

When I was elected to the Board of Directors for Whitehouse Water, it was because I ran on the promise to allow members to vote for or against a merger with NBU, once and for all. This has been a sore subject for members for too long, and it shouldn’t be this way. The system has been hamstrung without a system manager. Preventative maintenance has not been done, and nothing was, it appears, planned to resolve any of those issues. I have made it a priority to remain consistent with promises of improving things and getting our system up to some basic standards.

There have been multiple issues since my tenure that are completely unacceptable, some that are personnel related which expose the system to legal issues, and financial issues that prevented the system from doing basic business for a period last month. I, or any board member will not disclose any specific personnel related matters. The members were not getting the value for the money paid for contracted work.

At our regularly scheduled board meeting of September 25th, we voted to give notice of intent to terminate the current contract with Water Management Services of Alabama for well operator, and institute a management agreement with North Baldwin Utilities, for a portion of our staff. I personally reached out to several water authorities, as well as hiring managers, and asked the board members to do the same. Only NBU submitted a proposal in time. We reviewed it and made several changes to ensure WHWS is getting value and our employees protected. This contract is NOT a merger, it is simply a management agreement that replaces one contract with another for same money, but substantially more resources, including the thing we have been missing the most, system management. It was cleared with the system legal counsel and signed last night.

The one-year contract protects our employees, our assets, and most importantly, our drinking water. The maintenance crew will be offered a job by NBU at their higher rate of pay, and the office staff will remain entirely employees of WHWS, so all financials will be handled by the same people. The system should see immediate and measurable improvements. Again, all current Whitehouse Water System Employees who work outside will be offered jobs with NBU. All current office staff will remain employees of WHWS. Whitehouse Water isn’t going away with this agreement. We are simply making a business decision that is the right one, right now, for all members.

We, as your board will hold them accountable for any work done in or to the system, exactly as done under previous contract with WMS. This does not have any negative bearing on the grant monies as I have confirmed that NBU can do the work in the system, and since they don’t have to sub out as much work, can do it cheaper than we could, so we would get more for our dollars spent. That process continues in earnest and is on track.

This one-year agreement also has a clause that locks into place, all positions, salaries, responsibilities of staff, so that in the event at the end of the term, we opt to remain independent, we can do so and literally go back to how it was the day the management contact was executed.

My promise to get the final vote to merge or not remains unchanged. This is a requirement that we had to take based on a variety of specific circumstances, and one we didn’t choose lightly. However, it is the best possible outcome for our system.

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