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Sunshine Law Violation by County Attorney

The Hamilton County Attorney Rubin Taylor may have violated Tennessee State Sunshine Law ordering a GAG ORDER on the Hamilton County Commission.

Multiple citizens have opened an complaints with the Tennessee Ethics Commission to investigate the Sunshine Law violation. Hamilton county residents can file their own complaints at the following link:
https://www.tn.gov/tec/complaints.html

Public Record Article on Gag Order:
Source: Chattanooga Times

The sewage plant standoff between the county’s wastewater treatment authority and Hamilton County commissioners has pretty much all involved scratching their heads over what to do next.

After commissioners in December denied a special permit for a new treatment plant on Mahan Gap Road, the sewer authority said it would defer any decision on a future site — and the money to pay for it – to the commission.

Instead, officials with the Hamilton County Water and Wastewater Treatment Authority say they will work to expand capacity in their system, as well as those of Collegedale and Chattanooga, to cope with expected rapid growth and fix leaks and spills under a looming federal consent decree.

That will mean building storage tanks for wastewater and bigger lines to ship the waste to Chattanooga’s Moccasin Bend Sewage Treatment Plant from existing lines, as well as new ones expected to be needed in the fast-growing area.

But some public officials say the county would be better off if the Water and Wastewater Treatment Authority voted to sell itself to a private company, and a state representative who tried to dissolve the authority a few years ago hasn’t ruled out doing the same thing this session to protect his constituents.

Ooltewah Republican Mike Carter’s 2016 bill to dissolve the WWTA by 2021 passed but had to be undone in 2017 because it blocked the authority’s access to state loans it uses to maintain and expand its system during its life.

Carter said he’ll talk with other Hamilton County lawmakers soon “to discuss with them possible help and solutions to the problem, if there is a role for us to play.”

“I’m 100 percent in favor of a facility, but 100 percent not in favor of it being located among the communities on Mahan Gap, and in the name of building new neighborhoods, destroying neighborhoods that now exist,” he said. And he’s not happy the authority is planning to spend $200 million on fixing what it has rather than expanding the system.

If the problems can’t be resolved, he added, “sell it to someone and save $250 million of our credit rating.”

County Commissioner Chester Bankston, whose district includes the proposed plant, has pushed for WWTA to be sold.

“We’ve got to get it fixed, we’ve got to have more sewer up here,” said Bankston, who said he has talked to private operators interested in buying the authority. “If they can’t do the job, they need to give it to somebody who can.”

Tennessee American Water Co., which supplies Chattanooga’s drinking water, has said it is interested if the WWTA decides to issue a request for proposals from potential buyers.

Others say the county needs to keep its own sewer authority to maintain control of sewer routes and rates.

“I just don’t think that’s the right way to go,” said County Commissioner David Sharpe. “I think our growth should stay in the hands of Hamilton County. We should control our own destiny.”

County Mayor Jim Coppinger called for “an open mind” on how to deal with wastewater but added, “It’s an extremely critical and important decision if you are going to privatize such a valuable asset to the citizens of this county. It would obviously require a lot of conversation and a lot of consideration and input.”

Both commissioners spoke to the Times Free Press in interviews last week. At Wednesday’s county commission meeting, County Attorney Rheubin Taylor put a gag order on further discussion in that body.

When Commissioner Warren Mackey raised the topic of a new sewer plant, Taylor stopped him.

“I must respectfully ask the commission to forgo any discussion right now” of the WWTA, Taylor said. He briefed commissioners privately after the meeting but wouldn’t say publicly why he told them to keep quiet. He didn’t return a request for comment Thursday.

Bankston said Taylor told them that “WWTA’s attorney said we were obstructing justice by talking about WWTA out in public and we were hindering them from getting their job done.”

Bankston was referring to consent decree negotiations with the U.S. Justice Department and Environmental Protection Agency, along with the state attorney general and Department of Environment and Conservation.

It’s not clear whether the gag order will stop commissioners and WWTA officials from talking to each other. Both sides had said they wanted to search together for solutions to the sewage impasse.

All this uncertainty isn’t helping a bit with WWTA’s first-ever attempt to get a bond rating so it can finance up to $250 million for those required repairs, authority board member Bill McGriff told fellow board members this week.

Though he’s confident the authority will get an investment-grade rating, meaning it can sell bonds at a reasonable interest rate, the controversy “creates an uncertainty,” he said.

Board members were told Wednesday the authority has applied for $37 million in loans from the State Revolving Loan Fund for water projects, of which $14 million has been approved and $23 million more is under consideration.

WWTA executive director Mark Harrison said the authority has been working in the last few years to catch up on years of neglected maintenance and lack of capacity.

“We’ve got a good board, we’re making incredible improvements in our organization and we’re willing to continue making needed improvements based on positive, constructive input,” he said.

WWTA board chairman Mike Moon said he has asked Carter to “clarify his position” on the authority.

“If state law gets changed [to sunset the authority], there is no way forward. We would have no financing capability,” Moon said.

“For the board, our direction is to keep moving forward until we’re told not to.”

Contact staff writer Judy Walton at jwalton@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6416.

Categories: General, News Tags: ,

WWTA Meeting – Wed Oct 17 @ 9:15am

The head of WWTA in recent News 3 Interview pretty much said it’s a done deal. He thinks everyone just has to take it, lets show him otherwise!

WWTA still has to get County Commissioner Approval and RPA Approval
(However the RPA appears to have some issues and should be investigated by TBI/FBI).

PUBLIC MEETING NOTICE:

Wednesday, October 17:
9:15 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
Ooltewah Council Meeting:
Cambridge Square
9454 Bradmore Lane
Ooltewah, TN 37363
2nd Floor above Davis Waynes

 

Graphic: RPA & WWTA Conflicts of Interest

The following illustration breaks down who is on the WWTA and RPA and what they do and their relationships based on press release, state records, tax records and more. There is additional information coming on properties in Ooltewah being held as “Option” with developers on the building of the Sewer Treatment Plant. More to come!

It’s time for the TBI & FBI to investigate these relationships with county oversight agencies. There should be clear rules in the bylaws for the organizations to allow this type of breach of public trust.

Citizens should demand these individuals be removed from the WWTA & RPA immediately with the Mayor Coppinger!

wwta_rpa_relationships_conflicts

WWTA Petition to STOP SEWER PLANT

SHARE and SIGN the NEW Petition to STOP SEWAGE TREATMENT PLANT in OOLTEWAH!

Click Here to Sign

o-POOP-EMOJI-ICE-CREAM-facebook

WWTA Funding Denied – Step 1

WWTA is denied funding for the new sewer plant. Commissioners said they were “blind-sided” by WWTAs actions.

The next step is a public hearing scheduled for:

Community Meeting:
Oct. 11th from 5:30-7:00pm
Fire Hall Training Center
9100 Snow hill road.

Ooltewah, TN

Chattanoogan.com Article

Audio of Meeting: LISTEN HERE

County Commission Denies Funding To WWTA For Sewage Treatment Plant Site

Source: http://www.chattanoogan.com/2018/10/3/377341/County-Commission-Denies-Funding-To.aspx

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Mike Moon and Mark Harrison of the WWTA address the County Commission
Mike Moon and Mark Harrison of the WWTA address the County Commission

The County Commission, facing an overflow crowd in opposition, on Wednesday voted 6-0 to deny funds for a sewage treatment plant site.

Commissioners and residents hit the process the Hamilton County Water and Wastewater Treatment Authority (WWTA) went about pursuing the site at 7800 Mahan Gap Road.

Commissioners said they got little information about the project prior to being asked for a vote to spend $3 million to acquire a 178-acre site.

Residents also said they should have been allowed for full input and been given complete information.

WWTA officials said the commission action would have only been the first step in the process and there would have been full discussion and disclosure at meetings at the planning commission and at public hearings required by the EPA and TDEC.

Mark Harrison, WWTA director, said the site was an excellent location for the plant to cover a 20,000-acre section.  He said the WWTA is already at capacity on sewage it can send to Moccasin Bend Sewage Treatment Plant.

He also said that this site could be served by gravity feed, which he said would help curb odors that are more prevalent with pump stations.  He said the county landfill would not work for the plant because of its steep topography.

Mr. Harrison said the plant might also hold effluent from Meigs County and Bradley County. Mr. Harrison said the Moccasin Bend Plant has a capacity of treating 230 million gallons per day, and this plant would be 10 million gallons per day.

He said the effluent would not go into Savannah Bay, but would be released in the Tennessee River across from the Sequoyah Nuclear Plant.

The County Commission earlier approved $45 million for a new sewage treatment plant for the growing Ooltewah area.

Voting against the resolution were Chairman Sabrina Smedley, Vice Chairman Randy Fairbanks and Commissioners Katherlyn Geter, David Sharpe, Greg Martin and Chester Bankston.  Absent were Chip Baker and Warren Mackey.  Tim Boyd was present at the start of the meeting, but left by the time of the vote.

Categories: General, News Tags: , , ,

WWTA Response

The WWTA has issue media response. This is typical spin, no plans of changing their direction/decision. There are numerous sites along the river the facility can be located.
WWTA Response:

Thank you for reaching out to us about the proposed North Hamilton Wastewater Treatment Plant.  We are posting answers to frequently asked questions on our Facebook page.  As additional questions are asked, those will be added as well.  We will also be posting all media coverage there. We hope this is helpful to you and again, appreciate your concerns.

Sent on behalf of WWTA Chair Mike Moon.

WWTAboard@hamiltontn.gov

Thank you.

Natasha E. Long

WWTA Administrative Coordinator

Hamilton County Water & Wastewater Treatment Authority

1250 Market Street, Suite 3050

Chattanooga, TN 37402

Tel. (423) 209-7842

Fax (423)-209-7843

Categories: General, News Tags: , , ,

CALL TO ACTION: POOP Factory County Commission Voting on 2.6MM Wed

The Hamilton County Commission will VOTE Wed Morning 10/3/18 at 9am on RESOLUTION to purchase the land for 2.6MM in Ooltewah on Savannah & Wolfteaver Creek Marsh/Wildlife area. We need everyone to call/email the Country Commissioners and REQUEST they vote NO on resolution until WWTA finds NEW Location on the TN River.

Also, please ATTEND the meeting at the County Commission Chamber downtown Country Court House.

Res. No. 1018-14

A Resolution approving an Interlocal Agreement between the Hamilton County Water and Wastewater Treatment Authority and Hamilton County relative to the purchase of property for the North Ooltewah Treatment Facility from bond proceeds.

Hamilton Commissioner Email/Phone:

Randy Fairbanks – District 1 – district1@hamiltontn.gov
Chip Baker – District 2 – district2@hamiltontn.gov
Greg Martin – District 3 – district3@hamiltontn.gov
Warren Mackey – District 4 – district4@hamiltontn.gov
Katherlyn Geter – District 5 – district5@hamiltontn.gov
David Sharpe – District 6 – district6@hamiltontn.gov
Sabrena Smedley – District 7 – district7@hamiltontn.gov
Tim Boyd – District 8 – district8@hamiltontn.gov
Chester Bankston – District 9 – district9@hamiltontn.gov

Phone for everyone:
(423)209-7200

Stay up to date on Website, Facebook, Twitter:
https://FriendsOfHamilton.org