Kentucky’s Attorney General Andy Beshear is calling for the appointment of a receiver or independent supervisor to ensure nearly $8 million in current state and federal funded projects to improve the water system in Martin County are completed .
Beshear’s office chronicles years of inept leadership by the Martin County Water District in a 13-page report prepared by the AG’s Office of Rate Intervention.
“The district can no longer be trusted to run its operations as the people of Martin County suffer,” Beshear said. “The district has failed to follow three ‘road maps’ that would have provided a path to sustainability, and now the only path forward for the future of Martin County is an outside receiver.”
For residents in Martin County, the fight for clean water is an on-going battle.
“I don’t know anyone here that is comfortable with their water,” said local advocate BarbiAnn Maynard. She added, “Being afraid (of the water) has become normal… it is not normal, but it is our normal.”
Back in November, the Kentucky public service commission issued and approved a rate increase, while also ordering the water district to contract an outside party to operate the utility. According to the current Chairman of the water board, Jimmy Kerr, the board is currently working with the PSC on hiring an outside contractor.
But in the meantime, Beshear is calling for an independent supervisor or receivership to take over for the troubled water district. Kentucky law allows the PSC to appoint an outside source, who would temporarily control and manage the assets and operations of the water district.
In Martin County, the AG’s statements had mixed reviews. While locals are thrilled that Beshear and his office are pushing for a solution, the uncertainty of receivership makes them nervous.
“I’m not exactly comfortable with what the Attorney General said,” remarked Kerr. “I feel like with the PSC and the direction we are going in now is our best option.” He added,”I don’t think receivership is the answer.”
Maynard agreed, “What the Attorney General said worries me. Our ultimate goal is to get clean water and fix our lines…. but at what cost is that gonna happen.”
Beshear’s Department of Criminal Investigations has an ongoing investigation into financial mismanagement claims. Any findings, Beshear said, will be presented to the Martin County Commonwealth’s Attorney for review.
Beshear’s Office of Rate Intervention reviewed numerous documents and conducted local interviews in Martin County. The report outlines the numerous improvement guidelines or “road maps” the water district has almost completely ignored since 2002.