A week after former Hamilton County Water and Wastewater Treatment Authority Chairman Henry Hoss resigned his post, county commissioners voted unanimously to appoint county Finance Administrator Louis Wright to the authority's board.
"It's important that the WWTA function in an effective manner, because they're an important part of moving this county forward," County Mayor Claude Ramsey said. "I'd like to look at today as the next step in moving forward."
The Hamilton County Water and Wastewater Treatment Authority board will appoint a new chairman after the resignation of its former chairman, Henry Hoss.
Mr. Ramsey said he hoped Mr. Wright, with his financial background, would get a handle on the authority's expenses.
Mr. Wright will serve out the remainder of Mr. Hoss' term on the board, which ends in February 2010. Although he's replacing Mr. Hoss, Mr. Wright will not automatically be given the chairman position. It is up to the board to appoint its chairman, Mr. Ramsey said.
Mr. Hoss resigned from the authority board after months of back-and-forth with commissioners over attorney John Anderson's legal bills to the authority. Several commissioners have complained about the expenses noted in those bills, which amounted to almost $120,000 over a 14-month period.
Mr. Anderson could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
Commissioner Richard Casavant argued that the cost of an attorney is less important that the results.
"You need a wise attorney and a lobbyist," he said. "Let's stop beating up on one of our most important agencies."
Commissioner John Allen Brooks initially expressed some hesitation on voting in favor of Mr. Wright, asking whether Mr. Wright believed attorney John Anderson should stay on as the authority's lawyer and if the authority should keep its lobbyists in Nashville.
"I have not had an opportunity to meet with the board," Mr. Wright responded. "I would like to have an opportunity to ground myself on all the issues they're facing. After that, I promise you, I will vote to represent the best interests of Hamilton County."
Mr. Brooks said he could not vote for Mr. Wright unless he could answer those questions. However, after other commissioners made comments expressing support for Mr. Wright, Mr. Brooks said he would vote for him.
Mr. Hoss said he thought Mr. Wright was a good pick for his post on the board.
He also said that he resigned after Mr. Ramsey asked him to step down.
"I have a tremendous amount of respect for Claude Ramsey," Mr. Hoss said. "When he asked me to resign, I didn't hesitate."