Birmingham Water Works Board Chairman responds to critical repor - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Birmingham Water Works Board Chairman responds to critical report

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BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) -

Members of the Birmingham Water Works Board (BWWB) say they are taking a report critical of the board's operation very seriously.

The report was commissioned by the board after employees were found guilty of abusing overtime. The audit criticized how the water board is run and raises concerns over poor communication, record keeping and ways the utility is open to fraud. In all, it points out 200 weaknesses and deficiences in the wya the water works is run.

Friday, members of the Birmingham Water Works Board promised a serious look at problems highlighted by a recently released audit. The audit was done by Michael Mason, a forensic certified public accountant in Birmingham.

An earlier statement by the BWWB says the board was appalled at the findings. The water board chairman, Jackie Robinson, says a review is underway over the audit and some of the communications have been addressed so employees can voice concerns about potential problems.

"It will be in three forms. Those that we need to address immediately we will. Those that are being done we will document and those in process," Robinson said.

Robinson adds if there are other problems with the water utility they will address it.

"If there are some things in his report we need to address, of course we will address them. That is the only reason we did it. It's going to be a methodical process. It took Mr. Mason a year. It's going to take some time to address it appropriately," said Robinson.

BWWB General Manager Mac Underwood attacked the report, claiming some of the information was wrong. Robinson said some of the faults have been addressed such as allowing employees to use a telephone hotline to report problems. The report said some employees were afraid to report those problems. One board member found the report especially troubling.

"It is a very serious look at that we paid a lot of money for. We had someone with an expertise so we can improve the operation of the system," Ann Florie said.

Robinson also raised questions if the release of the audit was politically motivated with some state lawmakers pushing to expand the board of directors to include people outside of Birmingham.

The board promises a thorough review. The board may also take answer questions about the audit to counter accusations the board is not transparent.

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