|Rockdale department head in hot water over cost overrun|
|Written by Valerie J. Morgan|
The Board of Commissioners today approved a $22,000 cost overrun for a water rate study, after sternly chastising Rockdale Water Resources Director Dwight Wicks for his “mistake.”
Wicks said he allowed the Raftelis study to proceed after he ran into problems reaching the board late last year to discuss the fact that the study was going to cost more than the $100,000 originally approved by the board.
“I tried for four months to get this before you,” said Wicks, adding there was a “lack of communication.”
Wicks said he accepted full responsibility for his “mistake” and he would make sure that it never happened again.
Chairman Richard Oden and Commissioner JaNice Van Ness, two of the three members on the board of commissioners, supported the overrun but not before Wicks was lectured.
Van Ness became agitated when the discussion changed to increasing the cost overrun from $22,000 to $23,400 to cover all of the costs.
“The whole situation is absolutely ridiculous,” Van Ness said. “I was told $22,000. I’m not going to pay one penny more.”
Van Ness said that Wicks would have to personally pay the difference if Raftelis required more than the $22,000 the board approved today.
Commissioner Oz Nesbitt, who cast the dissenting vote, suggested that disciplinary action be considered for mistakes of this kind.
“Once you’ve reached the maximum allocated, in order to go one penny above that, you must come back,” said Nesbitt. “You can’t just move forward. You have to follow protocol.”
Nesbitt said that he wanted to send a clear message to Wicks and other department heads:
“I voted no because I don’t want to set a precedent in the county that it is O.K. to exceed allocated amounts on a contract without the board’s approval,” Nesbitt said. “This is taxpayers’ money and we must be good stewards.”
The county’s study will help set a rate hike anticipated sometimes this quarter for water and sewer services. The water department must improve and repair its aging and limited infrastructure, officials say.