Untitled - Chattanooga Times Free Press

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Untitled - Chattanooga Times Free Press
November 14, 2008
Hamilton County Commissioners
Hamilton County Courthouse
625 Georgia Avenue, Suite 401
Chattanooga, Tennessee 37402
REF: ANONYMOUS LETTER CONCERNING WWTA 2008 BUDGET
Gentlemen:
The Chattanooga Times-Free Press has received a copy of an anonymous letter sent to each of you,
which has raised questions about our 2008 budget. The paper has sent the letter to us requesting
comment. Generally speaking, I do not believe we should respond to anonymous letters. However,
I want you to know that the WWTA is open to all reasonable request as they come to our attention. I
consider the questions to be interesting and our responses should be helpful to your understanding of
the operations of the WWTA. Therefore, our responses are as follows:
1. Question: Under “Other professional services,” an amount of $ 25,975 is listed. What
company or party received these unbudgeted funds? What was the rate paid?
Answer: This account represents amounts paid to Derryberry Public Relations during the
year. Rate was $ 150.00/hour for approximately 173 hours of work. This included the
development of a new website, branding for the WWTA and other communication
projects to assist in educating the public about upcoming programs and efforts.
2. Question: From 2002 to 2009, “Accounting and Auditing Services,” of approximately
$18,000 per year was expended. What accounting company received these funds for
each year?
Answer: The auditing firms Hazlett, Lewis & Beiter, CPA’s and Henderson, Hutcherson
& McCullough, CPA’s, served as auditors for the county, also audited the WWTA. The
Hamilton County Finance Department also received payment as our bookkeeping office.
Barto, Hoss & Company received payment for administrative services. This amount also
includes the purchase of accounting software and related support.
3. Question: The WWTA is covered by insurance for legal representation from lawsuits,
why are the legal fees 4 times the budgeted amount?
Answer: We are not sure what the letter writer is saying when they say “insurance for
legal representation from lawsuits”. The WWTA budgets for a minimum level of legal
services we believe necessary for its operations and Board activities..
4. Question: Association dues are listed at $15,000. What associations, and is this needed?
Answer: The Association dues listed at $15,000 includes membership in the Tennessee
Association of Utility Districts as well as dues for other industry organizations. Several
staff personnel have wastewater certifications that require continuing education and,
lobbying efforts are also paid from this line item.
5. Question: In 2 years, WWTA personnel cost have increased by over $700,000 per year,
from 23 to 40 employees.
Answer: The writer has not asked a question but is trying to make a point. The point
seems to indicate a misunderstanding of our personnel costs.
Our budget document, as presented to the WWTA Board, identifies personnel costs for
the past several years including county benefits. A summary is as follows:
2002-2003
2003-2004
2004-2005
2005-2006
2006-2007
2007-2008
2008-2009 (Budget)
$
557,274.68
665,957.30
729,553.55
1,091,531.04
1,078,774.97
1,330,069.31
1,797,700.00
% of Revenues
14.13%
12.03
11.39
14.91
13.04
15.86
20.01
Our current budget plan (2008-2009) is for 28 people.
During the above years, the WWTA increased its services by adding many new customers
in the unincorporated areas of Hamilton County and municipalities: i.e., Red Bank,
Signal Mountain and Lookout Mountain. As the WWTA added customers and increased
the miles of sewer lines in its service area, personnel cost remained relatively stable at
11% to 15% of revenues.
For the year 2008-2009, we have added management personnel to improve safety and
supervision over operations and construction projects. One of the managers will be
tasked with supervision of the PSLP program. This will be a major maintenance effort
for the WWTA during the next six or seven years.
During the above time periods, county government has increased the amount they
charged for labor and benefits of our staff.
6. Question: Travel and meetings are listed at $12,000 per year, for what purpose?
Answer: The WWTA personnel attend training classes during the year.
employees have special certifications that require continuing education.
Several
I hope this answers these issues and look forward to clarifying any of these items for you as well. I
will also provide a copy of this letter to the Times-Free Press. I hope this has been helpful to you:
and as always, I thank you for your time and attention.
Sincerely,
Henry A. Hoss, Chairman