The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Local News

October 9, 2008

Athens Council interviews for utilities general manager

Athens is about to hire a new Utilities general manager since being without someone in that position for a decade.

The job comes down to two candidates: Electric Department Manager Gary Scroggins and Gas Department Manager Steve Carter. Depending on which one the City Council chooses, the new general manager will have to wear two hats because there are no plans to hire or promote someone to be in charge of either department.

Both Scroggins and Carter told the council in open employment interviews Thursday that they can handle both jobs – with adequate compensation to reflect the doubling of workload. Scroggins has been with the city for 12 years and Carter for 33 years.

Scroggins was first in the hot seat when the council met early Thursday in Mayor Dan William’s conference room.

There has been no Utilities general manager since the retirement of Tom Craven in the late 1990s. Since then, Utility department heads have come directly to the council for requests. In the council’s last regular meeting they decided to once again hire a general manager to streamline the process and better coordinate services.

Both candidates were asked how the Utilities could get more money into the General Fund.

“I know you’re not filthy rich,” said Council President Johnny Crutcher. “But you have a money flow that needs to flow into the General Fund, possibly through a gross receipts tax.”

“The city owns the Utilities, manages them and is responsible for the debt,” said Scroggins. “The city is entitled to a return on that debt. The council makes the policy decisions. What I would commit to doing is give you all the information you need and be as transparent as possible. Once you decide, I would support you 100 percent.”

Carter said that he realizes the city is bound by legislation that says it can only charge 2 percent more for power than what it purchases it for from TVA and there is no more revenue to be made from the transaction.

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