PRICHARD, Ala. (WKRG) — Now that the Prichard Water Board has fallen into new management, residents who have been impacted by the board’s alleged failures hope their pain has come to an end.
After two days in court, a judge ordered that the board be stripped of their powers. The power was then placed into the hands of a new receiver, John Young Jr.
“I’m glad they’re changing over to new management,” Prichard Water customer Lubertha Welch said. She said the PWWSB board has been through a lot of changes since she moved to Prichard in the 1990s, especially in regard to money.
The new receiver, John Young Jr., was appointed by the court as an independent receiver, meaning he is not affiliated with the water board or the bank that sued them.
Synovus Bank sued PWWSB, alleging financial mismanagement of the $55 million the board borrowed in bonds in 2019. The funds were supposed to be used for infrastructure improvements and paying off other outstanding debt. Much of the board’s monthly payments went either unpaid or partially paid.
“We’re not able to take the proper baths and things, wash, flush, children’s clothes, etc., because of the rate of the money we are paying and the mismanagement,” Severia Morris, president of United Concerned Citizens of Prichard, said.
The board, in September, raised customer rates by 22% to make up for financial struggle and unpaid bonds. Customers can expect to continue paying that rate increase, as it will persist through the management change.
The Southern Poverty Law Center is in negotiations with the board and Synovus Bank to determine whether the board should receive funding from the Environmental Protection Agency. That money could be used to fix infrastructure and repay some of that barrowed money.
Negotiations will continue into next week. The official receivership order should be finalized next week.