Tubbs and Barnett join the ranks of the departed alongside former board member Ross Blocker, who resigned because of health concerns, board member Jean Walker, who was dismissed Monday night by District 4 Commissioner Jimmy Roberson, and former board chairman Doug Blair, who was also dismissed by Roberson during a March 12 Talladega County Commission meeting.
Walker’s dismissal came on the heels of her decision to seek the legal opinion of Attorney Bo Shaw regarding the legalities of Blair’s dismissal after a previous attempt to acquire the opinion from Attorney Robert Rumsey failed because of a perceived conflict of interest.
According to the May 8 meeting minutes, Walker said she felt it was her responsibility to seek the opinion as the board’s current secretary. A legal opinion rendered by Attorney Barry Vaughn June 28 said that based on her own statements, it was apparent Jean Walker acted on her own accord.
Barnett, whose term was set to expire March 1, 2017, made his resignation effective at the close of the meeting and said his reasons for leaving was that he was not interested in dealing with the “politics” aspect of the position.
In a written statement, Tubbs announced his reasons for leaving and stated Aug. 30 would be his final day of work.
“I have been followed and spied upon,” Tubbs said. “My family and I have been harassed verbally and financially because of a personal vendetta by one of the new board members. I have even been threatened to be sent home on the spot by one of the other new board members.
“Due to the hostile work environment, it has made it uncomfortable for all employees to do their jobs,” Tubbs added. “This was not an easy decision, but after long hours of consideration, I have made my decision. I feel like there’s no other choice but to turn in my notice.”
As customers in attendance voiced their discontent over Tubbs’ announcement, Tubbs thanked the customers for allowing him to help make a positive impact on the authority.
“It is with a heavy heart that I will be leaving the customers, employees and friends that I have made while working here, and I am proud of what we accomplished in the past 11 years,” Tubbs said. “We have made a lot of good improvements, and a lot of hard work has gone into making this system grow. Hopefully those improvements will help carry us into the future.”
Tubbs backed up his claims of water authority success and growth with a wealth of statistics and noted changes.
“Under my management, we have gone from 1,100 customers to 1,700 customers and from an income of $447,000 to $800,000,” Tubbs said. “We went from a purchase system to a water-producing system with two wells and four tanks. We went from a system that had very few tools and equipment to a system that is well stocked with enough equipment to address our needs. My numbers, along with the employees, will speak for themselves now and in the coming years. What’s been the most important is we have not had a rate increase in 10 years.”
Concerned resident Ellen Harry directed her disdain at the current board for allowing so much experience to either walk away or be forcibly removed.
“These are good people who have worked hard for this board, made it a success and made it progress the way it has — and it’s been in good shape,” Harry said. “(The board) has come along and just run them all off by continually taking away all of their benefits they have been given. The (employees) were given their insurance in lieu of a raise, but (the board) said they have to pay for part of their insurance. The (employees) received so many paid days off per year, but now they’re taking that away. They just keep taking away instead of saying, ‘Hey, you’re doing a great job. We want to keep you.’ It seems more like they’re saying, ‘Let’s keep taking away and run them off.’”
Board member Adria Bryars said she was shocked by the tone of Tubbs’ resignation statement and claims the harassment between Fayetteville’s version of the Hatfields and McCoys hasn’t been as one-sided as he’s claimed.
“When I first became interested in coming to these meetings, I received threats from his family,” Bryars said. “They threatened to devalue our property and make our lives miserable. Since then, they’ve started to pile an old water heater, a set of rusty bleachers, old tires, farm equipment and other things along our property line.”
Bryars said the recent changes to board policies have been made to bring the authority in line with other rural water authorities of equivalent size and to establish similar policies.
“In the past, the board would just change the policies to benefit their employees without realizing the board is liable for all decisions that are made,” Bryars said. “We want to make these changes so 10 years from now, we’re not looking at the same problems. In the long run, these decisions will protect the employees and the board.”
While Bryars acknowledged the board achieved some successes in the past, it’s now time to make sure all phases of the authority are moving in the right direction.
“I wish we could have had all these nice things and additions with all our policies in order,” Bryars said. “We want to make sure we are doing everything legal and by the books.”
Chairman Don Maxwell recommended the board hold a special called meeting Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. in order to decide how to fill the void Tubbs leaves by resigning.
Contact Shane Dunaway at firstname.lastname@example.org