Beshear recommends takeover of Kentucky water district
INEZ, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear is recommending a takeover of a troubled eastern Kentucky water district.
The Lexington Herald-Leader reports Beshear’s office released a report on Thursday recommending that the Public Service Commission, the state agency that regulates most Kentucky utilities, force the Martin County Water District into receivership, which would give an outside corporation or utility control of daily operations.
The district has been plagued with reports of poor water quality and reliability and some residents have gone days without running water. The report released by Beshear’s Office of Rate Intervention says the Martin County Water District has repeatedly failed to take steps to improve its finances and operations, despite specific recommendations from state regulators and an independent auditor.
“The District has exhibited a historic pattern of rejecting sound advice to the detriment of its customers,” the Attorney General’s report reads.
Martin County Water Board Chairman Jimmy Kerr says receivership has a lot of unknowns and is likely to result in a rate increase.
He said the district is trying to find outside management to run daily operations, which would help address problems while allowing the district to keep some independent control.
“With receivership, there’s a lot of unknowns that scares me for our community,” Kerr said. “I think the management company route is better than the receivership route.”
Martin County Concerned Citizens requested Beshear’s investigation and Chairwoman Nina McCoy says she’s not so sure about a receivership either.
“We really need to spend the money that we have coming to us in the right way. I’m glad for any help with that,” McCoy said, but “we do have a board right now that looks like it is caring for the citizens.”
“The citizens have been trying for years to be a part of this process, and just recently have gotten our foot in the door, and we just don’t want this to slam the citizens out,” she said.
The district serves about 3,500 homes and businesses in Martin County.
Information from: Lexington Herald-Leader, http://www.kentucky.com