Water utility’s superintendent resigns

MERRIMACK – Brian Wilson served his final day Wednesday as superintendent of the Merrimack Village District.

Wilson’s resignation was accepted by the MVD commissioners in a nonpublic session Oct. 20, according to meeting minutes.

“Brian Wilson noted that he feels it is best at this time for the district for him to offer his resignation to the board,” according to minutes from the nonpublic session. “He noted there are several issues that need to be put to bed and he has no problem staying on as long as needed. The board decided that a release date of Nov. 30, 2003, would give the district time to search for a new superintendent. This date can be revised (as) necessary.”

Commissioner Tony Pellegrino moved to accept the resignation, and it was seconded by Lon Woods. The vote was 5-0.

Wilson has been the MVD’s superintendent for five years. He had been the assistant superintendent for three years before that.

The MVD is the town’s water utility, providing service to 6,200 customers. Its budget for 2003-04 is $2.69 million.

Wilson, contacted at his 2 Greens Pond Road office on Wednesday, declined to comment on his reasons for leaving.

Bill Pockl, chairman of the MVD commissioners, said Wilson wanted to pursue other opportunities.

“I’ve always enjoyed working with Brian. Brian was always very _professional in everything he did,” he said.

Pockl said when Wilson submitted a letter of resignation, it surprised the other commissioners.

But Wilson had been in a dispute with the board this fall over the expenditure of money left over from past bonds. Wilson used money that had been borrowed but not spent from other projects to pay off an MVD debt, according to meeting minutes.

Wilson said he had been given the green light to do that by state officials, according to meeting minutes. The commissioners said applying the unused portion of a bond to other expenses could only be done through a vote at the MVD’s annual meeting.

“There is a difference of opinion between the district’s legal counsel and the district’s superintendent regarding the use of funds that have accrued from unused portion of bonds,” according to minutes from a Sept. 15 nonpublic session of the board.

“The commissioners felt money taken from the account to pay district’s bonded indebtedness should be replaced and the district should ask voters at the annual meeting to use these funds. The commissioners also felt that if there is a need for additional money the district should look at borrowing money for the short term to run the district,” the minutes read.

“Brian Wilson noted that all capital expenditures have been put on hold at this time.”

According to minutes from an Oct. 6 nonpublic session, Wilson spoke to the state Department of Revenue Administration and received permission to use the money left over from past bonds.

But the district’s legal counsel ruled the money could not be used for that purpose, and commissioners requested the money be returned to the account as soon as possible, according to the meeting minutes.

Pockl said Wednesday that he didn’t know how much money was in question and declined to comment further.

“I don’t know if that was his reason or not,” Pockl said when asked if the dispute prompted Wilson’s resignation.

Pockl also said the board did not vote to ask Wilson to resign. Minutes of closed sessions in September and October showed no record of a vote and no mention of the board asking Wilson to leave.

Pellegrino deferred questions to Pockl and declined to comment further on the matter.

Woods hung up on a reporter who reached him by phone Wednesday at work.

“If you’ve spoken with Bill Pockl, you’ve spoken to the right person. Thank you for calling,” Woods said before hanging up.

Pockl said commissioners sent out requests for resumes to professional organizations and advertised the job in The Boston Globe.

The MVD has received 12 applications so far, and commissioners are reviewing applications as they come in, Pockl said. He said the board will narrow the field at the commissioners’ meeting in late December.