A state audit says the city of South Pittsburg improperly took almost $750,000 from its utilities department after the mayor "misinterpreted a 21-year-old city ordinance," according to a news release today from the state Comptroller's Division of Municipal Audit.
Division of Municipal Audit director Dennis Dycus advised South Pittsburg officials that, under state law, they are required to take corrective action to repay the money owed to the utility districts or be subject to a possible ouster from office, the release states.
The 1990 ordinance was intended to assure that the local utilities, Marion Natural Gas System and the Board of Water Works and Sewers, would pay for any roadwork expenses related to utility line installation, repair or maintenance, the release states. To make sure all costs were covered, the ordinance gave the utilities the option of depositing $20,000 annually for all projects that might occur in a given year. The utilities paid a $20,000 deposit in 1990, the release states.
However, in a letter dated Dec. 31, 2009, the town mayor asserted that the utilities should have been paying $20,000 deposits every year, even though they had paid for their roadwork expenses and the original $20,000 deposit remained intact, the release states.
For complete details, see tomorrow's Chattanooga Times Free Press.