10/1/2021 1:16:00 PM NB Water & Light electric plant operator no longer employed
The methodical behind-the-scenes dissolution of the North Branch Water & Light utility continued this week.
It took the North Branch Water and Light commissioners all of five minutes to call their special meeting to order Monday to act unanimously with no discussion, on a separation agreement with electric plant operator Bob Egan. The commission, minus member James Baxter, agreed to pay three months’ wages, a lump sum equal to Paid Time Off that’s un-used and $3,000 lump sum to go to health premiums.
Egan agrees to not speak about the utility and to not publicly discuss the separation agreement. He agrees to not talk about any agents of the city, or past and present members of the city council.
The plant operator’s position was made obsolete when Water and Light Utility commissioners recently voted to hire a firm to place a valuation on electric division assets, so the commission could put them up for sale. Again, this was voted on with no discussion at the commission level. In the meantime there is an agreement (which the Press has been unable to obtain a complete copy) with East Central Electric to oversee power needs and provide personnel. Linemen with ECE are reportedly being instructed by former Water & Light linemen on local systems and presumably on the generating system.
There is a deadline of the end of December for the Water & Light assets value study to be completed.
The water side of the utility has been absorbed into North Branch municipal public works operations and the city Public Works Director Shawn Williams is now the utility’s General Manager. All wages reportedly continue to be paid out of utility revenues, however, the utility commission has not received a financial report in quite sometime.
Scott Hautala is in a consulting role. He attended Monday’s meeting from an unannounced location via the Internet. He stepped down as GM but continues to be paid until the end of 2021. The separation agreement included his positive letter of reference for Egan.