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House passes water authority pay cut


Charleston Gazette-Mail

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Members of the West Virginia Water Development Authority could soon be facing a major pay cut.

The House of Delegates voted 96-3 Monday to pass legislation (SB 172) that would lower board members’ pay from $12,000 a year to about $150 a meeting. The water authority typically holds four meetings a year — and up to seven meetings some years.

“This [pay change] is consistent with many other [state] boards,” said Delegate Gary Howell, R-Mineral.

The Senate approved a version of the bill last month, eliminating water board members’ pay entirely. The Senate is expected to agree to the House’s changes and send the bill to Gov. Jim Justice for his signature.

If approved, board members’ pay would be slashed effective July 1.

The legislation follows a Charleston Gazette-Mail report, which revealed that a former water authority board member was paid $58,300 over a three-year period, even though he had attended no meetings and had done no work. The authority’s executive director, Chris Jarrett, said existing state law required the board member be paid until the governor appointed a replacement.

Jarrett has said it could become difficult to find people willing to serve on the water authority board without pay, especially those who live four or five hours away from Charleston.

Last month, Gov. Jim Justice rescinded his appointment of former campaign advisor Larry Puccio to the Water Development Authority’s board of directors. Puccio said that he asked Justice to withdraw the appointment after learning that board members receive $12,000 a year to attend four meetings.

A separate bill (HB 2841) — approved by the House last week and now under review in the Senate — would prohibit state agency board members to be paid for meetings they’ve missed.

State investigators have been scrutinizing the Water Development Authority’s spending and hiring practices in recent months. The agency issues bonds that fund water and sewer projects across West Virginia.

See more from the Charleston Gazette-Mail

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