Hope for the hopeless water board

Tuesday’s Holley Navarre Water System board election has reaffirmed something – there may be hope for a drowning system. No – they are not drowning financially, in fact, they are rich by any nonprofit’s standards. But they have been drowning themselves in the proverbial testosterone war that dogs usually lift their leg for.

While entertaining to watch, the meetings have become more like schoolyard fights between directors. You cross this line and I’ll get you. Oh yeah? And he steps across the line. And the fight ensues. Only in the board room they have hired a deputy (armed no less) to be there as a source of intimidation. If you don’t stop talking I will have the deputy escort you out. It makes us want to stick our tongue out and cry “na-na boo-boo” or some childish thing.

After the election Tuesday night, board president Bien May and personnel chair Robert Coley took their toys and went home. They could not accept the will of the members and they resigned. We should not have been surprised. And yet the peace in that room was palpable after they left.

For what it’s worth, here are our hopes for the newly shaped water board:

  • Even though your attorney says you do not fall under the Sunshine Law, act as if you do, because you might one day be required to do so. Stop the backroom deals and conversations. Stop closing the curtains on your members and treating them as if they are an annoyance.
  • Do the same for MESI and Hidden Creek Golf Course. Shine the light on those financial statements.
  • Watch closely over controllable costs (attorney’s fees). By the way, how much money did Mr. Tidwell receive from Holley Navarre Water System in 2017? How much money did other attorney’s receive?
  • Your members (i.e., owners, bosses, accountability team) elect you to represent their bests interests and that of the system (despite what former manager Ken Walker says). They expect you to do it professionally and competently. Every board member should receive a copy of “Roberts Rules of Order” and follow it – not just when it will get you what you want.
  • Past president Bien May basically said if you aren’t hearing from your members it means you are doing a good job. He is wrong. You are either not asking or they are indifferent until they are told they need to be paying attention.
  • Say no to refinancing Fairpoint Regional Utilities’ debt. It makes no sense. What business person in their right mind would opt for changing to a variable rate loan and extending the loan out when it is almost paid off? Oh wait, one that stands to receive a large sum of money on the transaction. Say no.
  • Capital projects should move Navarre’s infrastructure forward. The county is working on a Navarre master plan – you should participate in the process. Water is a vital infrastructure and it would make good financial sense to work together with the government that gave you the right to operate your business in Navarre.
  • Consider the future of the golf course and the path to the profitability. Consider all your options; leasing out the restaurant portion of the club or even selling the course with a stipulation that the owners use HNWS reclaimed water.

We know we have a long list of hopes – but this is a most hopeful time for HNWS. Those that fought to win got what they wanted – and now they must better the Holley Navarre Water System as promised. We believe they will, but we will be watching. And the good news is, they expect us to.

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