A request from Roberson to seek a Financial and Compliance Audit from the state examiners office was approved at Monday’s Talladega County Commission meeting.
When asked if he knew why Roberson had made the request for an audit, Blair said, “I have no idea. We said the same thing.”
Roberson, however, said he believes the audit could put to bed several rumors and questions related to the board’s salaries, health insurance, paid holidays and vacations, and bidding practices.
“I am the appointing authority for that board. With that being said, I am responsible for the decisions that the board makes,” Roberson said.
“It was a build-up since December.”
After the board requested pay increases and the appointment of an additional board member in December of last year, Roberson said he met with several of the board members but left the meeting with several unanswered questions about their operations.
“I asked questions about their accounts payable appropriations, just things you would ask,” Roberson said.
He said that over the next few months water customers in the community contacted him with their concerns and questions that he could not answer.
Things came to a head in May, with phone calls coming in from customers concerned about the board’s recent bidding process.
“In May I received several phone calls from disgruntled water customers about the bidding process of the water authority’s surplus property,” Roberson said.
According to board meeting minutes from the water authority’s April 11 meeting, a surplus 2007 Ford truck was bid on by Don Blair, Morgan Arnold, Kenneth Jackson, Gene Simms, Terry’s Used Cars and Josh Tubbs.
Josh Tubbs won the bid for the truck after bidding $5,001, one dollar higher than Terry’s Used Cars’ bid of $5,000.
Not only was the amount Tubbs chose to bid on the truck in question, his bid alone, along with Don Blair’s bid, were questioned because of their family ties to water authority officials.
Don Blair is the son of board Chairman Doug Blair and Josh Tubbs is the son of the board’s manager, Johnny Tubbs.
According to county guidelines, county officials cannot bid out surplus property to family members, but it was unclear to Roberson if water authority officials were also bound by those same guidelines.
After speculation about the bids on the truck arose, a hypothetical inquiry was made by county administrator Wayne Hall to the Ethics Commission to see if those county guidelines applied to the water authority.
Hall said he omitted individual names involved with the bidding process as well as the name of the Fayetteville Water Authority in the conversation with an attorney from the Ethics Commission and asked if a similar situation would result in an ethics violation.
The answer was yes.
“It appears that it would be an ethics violation,” Hall said. “It didn’t leave any question.”
Hall is in the process of filing a formal letter for the audit that was requested at Monday’s commission meeting.
“After receiving that information, I felt it was my responsibility to request an audit from the state examiner’s office to clear up any rumors or possible violations,” Roberson said.
“There’s just a lot of unanswered questions and recent issues that brought on the audit, and this was the final straw.”
The Fayetteville Water Authority serves about 1,600 customers in the Fayetteville area, and currently operates with five board members, four representing Talladega County and one representing Coosa County.
“We have an accountant that does our books,” Blair said. “Anything they feel we need to document they tell us, but we’ve always got good credit. There’s never been a shortage or anything.”
Blair said he is not aware of any wrongdoing, and the board receives good reports that are presented at the end of their meetings.
“If he wants it, they’re welcome to it,” Blair said.
Contact Aziza Jackson at firstname.lastname@example.org.