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Water and Sewer Authority: new employees cannot touch company-matched funds for five years

On Oct. 27, the Dade County Water and Sewer Authority approved an employee retirement vesting plan that prevents employees from having access to the company’s matched funds until they have worked there for five years.


Water and Sewer Authority Assistant General Manager Sherri Walker said that a policy for this had not been put in place and was greatly needed. Walker said the policy will guarantee that employees will stick around for at least five years.


“It gives you more security in the longevity of the employees,” Walker said. “Their money is theirs from day one. Anything we match, they can’t touch until after five years.”


“Is this a standard policy?” Board Member Dr. William Pullen said.


“Yes,” Walker said. “I’ve talked to the auditors and a company my husband used to work for – it’s been standard everywhere that I’ve seen to have a five-year policy.”


“Do we have any employees that have been here for less than five years?” Vice-Chair H.A. McKaig said.


“Very few,” Walker said.


McKaig asked Walker if the employees hired prior to the policy were able to take out any of the authority’s matching funds.


Walker said that regardless of when the employees were hired, once the policy is approved, all matching funds are untouchable until after five years.


“If they drew anything out, they would only be able to get their portion,” Walker said. “When the five years is up, it’s theirs. We’re not trying to take anything away from the employees. We’re just trying to give the company a little security to ensure that people are going to be around a little longer.”


“Sounds reasonable to me,” Board Chair Eddie Cantrell said.


The board then motioned to approve the new policy. The policy was voted in unanimously.


Walker reported that the Brown Drive Sewer Project is going well, adding that pressure testing and the cutting of taps for residents are happening currently. Property restoration for the areas that were dug up is the final step.


“It’s looking really good,” Walker said.


The project has been in the works since the Summer. However, due to a decision made by former General Manager Jeff Pendergrass, who abruptly resigned on July 9, only half of the residents on Brown Drive had access to the sewer line. 


The mistake saw the authority go to the county commission on Oct. 1 to ask for an additional $22,900 in SPLOST funds to finish the project, which was approved by the commission.


Walker said the authority is looking to make several upgrades. 


The roof of the maintenance building is set to be replaced for $70,000. Bids were also sent out to upgrade the water main, the pump station and several tanks. 


“We’ve not had very many people show up to our bid openings,” Walker said. “These are projects that we all agreed to do. The money is coming from the USDA.”


The main computers the authority uses are also in need of an upgrade, which will cost $7,600 in order to maintain the systems.


“I’d hate to have something happen and the computers shut down and we’re blind – we can’t see what’s going on,” Walker said.


For the month of September, the authority earned an income of $316,000 with an expense total of $227,000, leaving a total profit of $89,000.


Year-to-date income actually shows that the authority has a negative income of $29,000.


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