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Serving the citizens means standing up for what’s right

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By Natasha Colbaugh

  I, like many people, was surprised to discover Jellico was abolishing its utility board last week. Not for misappropriating funds or any other act of shortcoming, rather the board of mayor and aldermen are trying to control the utility company in the best interest of its customers.

When I heard the news and listened to the reasons behind it, red flags were raised in my mind. Could it be they did something wrong and needed to be dismantled. But no, it’s because the customers are unhappy with their utility bills.

The board of aldermen thinks they can do a better job at running the utility company.

Mayor Les Stiers thinks he can call up TVA and ask for lower rates. This concept baffles me. The mayor is going to try and negotiate with a federal agency.

If this ordinance is successfully passed, the only thing it will bring is more angry citizens back to town hall.  I don’t believe the town board is capable of handling that increase in responsibility.

Most of the board members are new to government, and are still learning their way.

Why would they want to take on control of a massive company with no experience?

It all comes down to making hard decisions.

Not once has Stiers told the citizens  TVA is setting the rates. He appears to have led the community to believe the utility board is doing them injustice.

At the meeting, where the board passed an incomplete ordinance to abolish the utility board, not once did Stiers tell the citizens it was still being researched.

He didn’t mention the amount of debt and aging infrastructure the water system has or the fact TVA approves the budget for the electric system.

The large crowd of people at the board meeting supported Stiers. Every time he said a motion passed they would erupt with applause. I have to question why his intentions were not made public to everyone.

Is he trying to avoid the differing opinions of the rest of the community?

It’s not easy to tell a large amount of people “I’m sorry, but TVA sets the rates.”

It appears this mayor is trying taking the easy route.

If the community isn’t happy with the utility board-we’ll just get rid of them. That sounds like an easy route to me.

And if the community doesn’t want beer sales on Sunday-who is going to tell them property taxes may increase? Sooner or later Stiers is going to have to face the hard decisions of running a municipality.

And he isn’t going to be able to laugh his way out of it.