Bank officer joins BEGWS group

Mary Perham
Bill vonHagn

A fifth and final candidate has been named to the fledgling Bath Electric Gas and Water Systems Commission.

Mike Austin, a commercial officer at Community Bank, NA, was approved by Bath village trustees at their regular meeting Monday night, according to Trustee Bill vonHagn. VonHagn is the village board’s liaison with the village-owned utility.

Trustees agreed in early October to reopen their search for a commission composed of village residents with business, engineering and financial backgrounds.

Two weeks ago, trustees gave a nod to commission candidates Harold Rodbourn, Barney Bonicave, William Heigel and Rhonda Sweet. The candidates will be appointed for initial terms ranging from one year to five years.

Membership on the unpaid board is limited to two five-year terms with terms staggered throughout the first five years of the commission.

The commissioners will be formally sworn in at the next village board meeting, set for next Monday.

The new commission will provide oversight and control over BEGWS, with a village trustee appointed as a nonvoting liaison to the commission. The trustee reports back to the village board on the utility’s operations.

Trustees have said they intend to continue their scrutiny of the utility, given the recommendations by the state auditor nearly a year ago.

The state’s report was highly critical of village operations and the utility, charging misappropriation of funds, shoddy record-keeping and conflicts of interest. It also recommended trustees keep an eye on the utility.

The village is also looking for candidates to run the daily operations of their utility, after BEGWS Director Matt Benesh announced his retirement.