Originally created 02/22/98

Pour cold water on Howard 022298 - The Augusta Chronicle



State Rep. Henry Howard, D-Augusta, is proposing a "cure" for which there is no disease.

His bill to establish a city water authority might be a fine antidote if existing water and sewer management was afflicted by corruption, incompetence, waste -- or even some measurable level of public dissatisfaction. It's not.

To the contrary: the water is good, the rates are low (compared to other communities) and city utilities director Max Hicks draws high marks for his professional supervision of the system. What isn't broken doesn't need fixing.

Besides, why replace an elected water authority (the Augusta Commission) with an appointed one?

Commissioners are rightfully miffed that in several meetings they had with the local legislative delegation dating back to December, Howard never raised the water authority issue. He sprang it out of the blue last week. Some of his legislator colleagues are just as surprised as commissioners.

Belatedly, Howard claimed a water authority is needed to prevent the Augusta Commission from diverting water revenues into other government operations as city officials did before consolidation. He's like the general who's fighting the last war. The consolidated government does not operate like the old city government. Can Howard cite any maladministration of water revenue money now?

Commissioner Moses Todd properly rips the Howard plan for adding a new layer of paid bureaucrats to the government. Commissioner Ulmer Bridges points out appointed bureaucrats won't be sensitive to constituents' water and sewer complaints as elected commissioners are. Indeed, Howard's bill weakens the Commission. Let's hope his legislative colleagues in Atlanta pour cold water on this proposal.