published Monday, April 22nd, 2013

Moccasin Bend Clean Water Authority leader serving in two roles


by Cliff Hightower
  • photo
    Chattanooga city engineer Bill Payne
    Photo by By Allison Love

Chattanooga City Engineer Bill Payne will continue as interim director of the Moccasin Bend Clean Water Authority as the new city administration gets settled.

Payne was named interim director for the newly formed authority in March. He said at this time the positions are not conflicting and running the authority isn't a full-time effort.

"If it gets to a point where it consumes a full-time amount of time, then [a full-time position] will have to be evaluated," Payne said.

Former Mayor Ron Littlefield created the authority in December with council approval, combining the city's sewer and stormwater divisions into a single, independent agency. Littlefield's vision was that it would one day expand to include other sewer and water providers.

Lacie Stone, Mayor Andy Berke's spokeswoman, said Thursday there is no talk now of expanding.

"We are still in the process of our review of the clean water authority," she said.

Stone said right now the mayor's focus is on his key issues of public safety, economic development and youth development.

Payne said several of his responsibilities as city engineer overlap his job as interim director. Payne said he's not being paid extra to run the authority and there's no rush for a permanent director. The earliest the authority could become a completely independent entity, much the same as EPB and the Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport Authority, would be July 2014, he said.

If the Berke administration decides not to go forward, the authority can be dismantled and its functions brought back under city governance at any time, Payne said. All it would take is for the mayor to present a resolution for the Chattanooga City Council's approval, Payne said.

The terms of the authority's inaugural board members expire June 30, after which Berke can appoint his own board. Payne said he could continue to serve as interim director or the board could choose another course.

But he said he doesn't think there would be enough added responsibilities by the end of June to warrant a full-time director. "I don't anticipate that," he said.

Contact staff writer Cliff Hightower at chightower@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6480.

Follow him at twitter.com/cliffhightower or facebook.com/cliff.hightower.

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