Tongret quits water board, walks out

There is one less member of the Daleville Water Board after Board Chairman Charles Tongret resigned and walked out of the meeting.

After Tongret called the Sept. 15 water board to order, he read what he called a “State of the Water Board Comment” to those attending the meeting. He did not distribute copies of his presentation to the water board members or the board secretary/treasurer.

“The bottom line of this ‘State of the Water Board Comment’ is this,” Tongret said. “This board has problems all of which could be easily overcome with teamwork.

“There is more than enough collective knowledge to do what is right but I am not sure that there is personal commitment,” he said to the board members. “I have tried but I guess since I am not one of the ‘good old boys’ but instead one of the ‘certain people’ that shouldn’t be involved with the city, I therefore resign as a member of this board effective immediately.”

Tongret then got up and left the council chambers, leaving Water Board Vice Chairman Josh Robertson to preside over the rest of the meeting.

“I’ve tried to make sense of why, as a board, we have no system in place to monitor, manage or review the (city water department) operations,” Tongret said in his “State of the Water Board Comments” prior to his resignation.

He reminded the board that water board discussion when Daleville Mayor Jayme Stayton—who serves also as water board superintendent in his capacity of mayor—was first elected mayor on Aug. 23, 2016 included a request for a resume from Stayton.

“A read back to four years ago before myself and (Daleville City Councilwoman) Jo Reese were put on the board shows that there was much discussion about the qualifications of Jayme Stayton to lead, guide and manage and supervise the operations of the water department,” Tongret said. “Specifically, the required qualifications that include what our current job description states.”

Tongret said that, at that time, the water board attorney stated that Stayton should provide the water board with a resume. “I don’t think that he ever gave us one. I have been on the board for over three years and I do not recall a single time that Jayme has stood up and provided any type of report that would reflect his willingness to comply with the requirements of the established job description.”

Tongret questioned the salary paid the water board superintendent. According to Resolution 12-14-16, which is the water department superintendent contract signed by the board, the water board superintendent is “to be compensated $38,000 annually payable each month out of the receipts of such utility system.”

According to the contract, the superintendent “will also participate in the Retirement Systems of Alabama in the same manner of all employees of the board and said superintendent will receive benefits in the same manner as all employees to include health insurance, life insurance and dental insurance.”

“To pay someone more than a quarter of a million dollars in four years and getting absolutely nothing in return on our investment,” Tongret said. “Well, that’s not criminal but it’s almost fraudulent.

“How much are we paying for gas and maintenance on our work fleet?” Tongret continued. “Have we ever had any updates on our work fleet?

“One thing I am ashamed of, and really want to apologize to the good people of Daleville for, is the money we spent last year for what I feel are extravagant trucks for the (water board) superintendent and the (water department) supervisor,” Tongret said. “Neither of those trucks are trucks to go out in the woods to get torn up in. No, those are pretty trucks. Those are trucks that you, for lack of a better word, ‘style and profile in.’ I apologize for being a part of the board for that.”

Tongret said he recommended that board trucks be clearly marked as water department vehicles and that the board receive updates on usage and maintenance.

“We pay the (water department) bills every month but we don’t know what we are paying. We know who we are paying but not what for,” Tongret said. “We’ve never been given any financial updates per se except for, and through, the financial audit which we get once a year. I’ve asked and have yet to receive a copy of any finances to provide to the board.

“What’s our (water department) workload? How often do we contract out our work because we don’t have the skills or equipment here in house? Are we proactive in maintenance or do we wait around for a sewer line to break before we fix it?” he asked. “When I first got on the board I was committed to understanding my responsibility. I guess I asked too many questions.”

After Tongret’s resignation and departure, the board heard a request from the Daleville Area Chamber of Commerce Director Michelle Powell for consideration of board funding in support of the chamber.

The board also set a budget work meeting for Sept. 22 at 5:15 p.m. in the council chambers.

The next scheduled meeting of the Daleville Water Board is Oct. 20 at 4:30 p.m. in the Daleville City Hall Council Chambers. The meeting is open to the public.

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