Days after he was the target of scathing criticism from the leader of the Central Lake County Joint Action Water Agency board, Wauconda Mayor Frank Bart on Tuesday insisted he won't be the town's representative if it's invited to join the agency.
"It would be someone other than me," Bart told the audience during the evening's village board meeting. "I'm not going to appoint myself."
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Bart also said he hasn't been involved with any negotiations with the agency, which provides a dozen communities with drinking water from Lake Michigan. All such talks have been handled by Village Administrator Doug Maxeiner, Bart said.
Bart's remarks were responses to questions from audience members at the start of the meeting. Those questions were prompted by comments the agency board Chairman Rich Hill made in a Daily Herald interview Friday.
Hill said that Wauconda trustees will need to select an envoy other than Bart if the town wants to join the regional water group.
"I don't think anyone would want the mayor to sit at our table right now," Hill said. "With him being involved, it's still an issue."
Hill's animosity goes back to September 2013, when two years of negotiations between the village and the agency collapsed.
Agency board members, Wauconda residents and village trustees blamed Bart for the debacle, citing delays in the negotiations and demands made after he took office in May 2013.
Since then, Maxeiner and other village officials have worked to get the water agency to reconsider the village for membership. The agency board is expected to discuss the matter April 23.
Membership requires a unanimous vote from the agency board.
Wauconda voters in 2012 approved a $50 million plan to connect to a Lake Michigan water system. Homes and businesses now get water from local wells.