Water agency leader says panel doesn't want to work with Wauconda mayor
To join the agency that provides drinking water to a dozen Lake County communities, Wauconda officials will have to select a representative other than Mayor Frank Bart, the leader of the group's board said Friday.
"I don't think anyone would want the mayor to sit at our table right now," said Rich Hill, chairman of the Central Lake County Joint Action Water Agency board. "With him being involved, it's still an issue."
Hill's comments came during a telephone interview with the Daily Herald. The animosity goes back to September 2013, when two years of negotiations between the village and CLCJAWA collapsed after Bart's election as mayor.
CLCJAWA board members, Wauconda residents and even members of the village board blamed Bart for the debacle, citing delays in the negotiations and demands made on behalf of the village.
In a telephone interview Friday, Bart said he wasn't aware of the CLCJAWA board's objections to his possible participation.
"That gives us something to work on," he said.
Bart may have been surprised by the feelings fueling Hill's comments, but Wauconda trustees weren't.
"It's already been discussed," Trustee Ken Arnswald said. "It will be somebody other than Frank Bart."
Arnswald said Village Administrator Doug Maxeiner or a trustee might be Wauconda's envoy to the water agency if the board is offered membership.
"He knew (last year) that he was not to be a representative," Arnswald said of the mayor.
The issue may not have been discussed formally, Arnswald and other trustees said. But it will be now.
"It can't be ignored," Trustee John Barbini said. "It's got to be addressed."
Maxeiner and other officials will meet Thursday, April 10, with the water agency's executive committee to discuss the village's application.
The full water board could debate Wauconda's request April 23. A vote is possible then, too.
Membership requires a unanimous vote from the agency board of directors, who are the mayors of the member towns.
Bart publicly accepted responsibility for the water plan's failure at a public meeting last fall, but he also said there were communication problems between the water agency and Wauconda.
Agency board members didn't like that, said Hill, who is Round Lake Beach's mayor.
The mayors don't want someone "who will create disharmony on the board," he said.
However, if the board chooses a different representative, Hill said, Wauconda stands "a pretty good chance" of joining the agency.
Bart said the village and the agency need to get past any problems that may separate them.
"If there's an issue, let's address it openly and honestly," he said.
Wauconda voters approved a $50 million plan to connect to a Lake Michigan water system in 2012. Homes and businesses now get drinking water from local wells.
Some of the revenue has been collected even though the village doesn't yet have a water supplier.