EES plans to discuss possible refunds

By Bob Robinson

   The "people's right to know" was an issue at last night's board of directors meeting of the Elizabethton Electric System (EES).
   Ken Kelly of the accounting firm of Margaret W. Moses, CPA, 318 E. Elk Ave., Elizabethton, distributed "drafts" of an audit report of EES to its board of directors.
   Kelly admonished the board to "limit distribution" of the report because it contained "technical information."
   "There could be a problem taking things out of context for political purposes," Kelly told the board.
   In response, EES board attorney John Banks said the "Open Records Act in Tennessee was one of the most liberal to be found and that the two of them needed to talk," presumably to discuss the people's right to know.
   A copy of the audit report "draft" was not made available to news media representatives attending the meeting.
   Information on post-retirement benefits and health insurance liability was not in the draft audit report but would be added when the information became available, Kelly told the board.
   Kelly also recommended:
   * Revising procedures to refund customer deposits, which total $1 million, and increasing connection fees to offset delinquent accounts which must be written off the books;
   * Conducting an orientation session for new board members;
   * Exploring use of Internet for customers to pay their bills online;
   * Using night deposit drop box to collect payments during the day;
   * Using two cashiers instead of one to process night deposits; and,
   * Improving staffing to reduce the number of customers waiting in line to pay their bills at the walk up counter and drive-in window.
   Board chairman Gary Nave asked EES General Manager Phil Isaacs to have members of his staff review the recommendations in the audit report.
   "We may also need to form a committee to evaluate the recommendations on returning customer deposits," Nave said. Isaacs agreed.
   In other action, the board approved in lieu of tax payments, totaling $875,586, for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2002, as follows: (increase over 2001 fiscal year shown in parenthesis)
   City of Elizabethton - $674,635 ($53,136);
   City of Watauga - $391 ($136);
   City of Johnson City - $3,552 ($1,113);
   Carter County - $192,645 ($15,425);
   Sullivan County - $2,578 ($231);
   Unicoi County - $1,359 ($101); and,
   Washington County - $423 ($31).
   In addition to Nave, members of the EES board of directors are Shirley Hughes, Howard Matherly, Janie McKinney and Richard Sammons, the latter two are members of Elizabethton City Council.