Hamilton County commissioners will vote today to determine whether they’re satisfied with financial documents provided last week by the county’s Water and Wastewater Treatment Authority.
Depending on today’s vote, the County Commission could take the Water and Wastewater Treatment Authority to court to demand more detailed invoices showing attorney John Anderson’s charges to the authority.
“It didn’t enlighten me,” Commissioner Larry Henry said regarding a notebook that authority Chairman Henry Hoss left with the commission Friday afternoon.
The notebook contains invoices for legal services provided to the authority by attorney John Anderson.
In a set of near-identical documents received in October by Commissioner Curtis Adams, most of the notebook’s descriptions of services provided by Mr. Anderson for the authority were blacked out. In the versions provided Friday, only descriptions on pages labeled “pending litigation” were blacked out.
In a letter to commissioners, Mr. Adams said the bills were “not worth the paper (they were) written on.”
Mr. Adams asked the authority for attorney John Anderson’s legal bills, he said, on behalf of an East Ridge residents group. Mr. Anderson is the attorney for the city of East Ridge and the authority.
Among other activities, the provided descriptions briefly note meetings Mr. Anderson attended, documents he worked on and conferences he had with authority employees, along with the names of those employees.
Commissioner Fred Skillern said that’s not good enough.
“All this does is raise more questions for me,” he said.
Mr. Skillern said his legal bills usually show the amounts of time his attorney worked on a given task and fully describe what he did.
Mr. Hoss could not be reached for comment Tuesday, but Mr. Adams and Mr. Henry said authority officials told them the bills provided were all the information available.
The County Commission appoints WWTA board members and oversees the independent agency, but does not fund it.
County Commission Chairman Jim Coppinger said he believes the information requested should be provided to the commission, but also stressed that the authority plays an important role in Hamilton County by providing sewer services.
“What we don’t want to do is lose sight of the value of the WWTA,” he said.
Likewise, Mr. Henry said he thought the authority has done a good job managing the sewer systems it oversees.
Still, he said he had some worries, especially concerning the fact that Mr. Hoss’ accounting firm — Barto, Hoss & Company, P.C. — did some “administrative services” work for the authority. Mr. Henry said that work may pose a conflict of interest.
Commissioner Warren Mackey said he believed the authority suffered from poor leadership. He said he was still dissatisfied with the $8 monthly fee the authority recently approved to charge gravity sewer customers for repairs.
“That’s not right,” he said.