How many problems, complications and setbacks can one small, relatively-obscure public agency encounter?
If you want to get an answer to that question in regards to the Lynnfield Center Water District (LCWD), good luck. The LCWD’s commission chairwoman resigned last month with Constance Leccese’s resignation effective at the end of March.
Leccese, whose term expires in 2021, put a brave face on her resignation by describing LCWD as ” … a complex organization … in transition.” She could not have used more mild language to describe an agency that has done nothing but anger ratepayers and alarm Lynnfield’s Board of Selectmen since last summer when dozens of town residents and LCWD customers complained about brown water.
District administrators made an effort to assure their customers that LCWD water is safe to drink and promised steps were being taken to address discoloration.
LCWD in hindsight should have resolved the problem before unveiling an end-of-2018 rate hike that sent customers’ tempers boiling over. The retroactive rate hike took the district’s 2,600 users by surprise with one ratepayer questioning how his bill jumped from $60 to $1,170.
Their meeting last Monday night saw the commissioners reverse their rate hike after their attorney said the commission failed to list the rate increase’s three-tiered structure.
The vote to reverse the hike only came after selectmen, who were inundated by calls from irate ratepayers, filed a public records request for documents explaining the rate hike. In seeking the documents, the town’s top elected officials sought out information on LCWD’s billing policies.
Where does LCWD and its governing board go from here?
It looks like Leccese is right: The board is in transition and within two months it could experience a complete turnover with Leccese’s resignation, Water Superintendent and commissioner Kenneth Burnham’s January retirement and the expiration of commission Richard Lamusta’s term in March.
Lamusta had not decided as of last Thursday if he would seek another term but there is ample evidence, in our view, that LCWD needs new guidance and vision to sort out its problems.