It only took a few seconds, but Chattanooga City Council members unanimously voted Tuesday night to authorize the creation of a new water and wastewater treatment authority for the city.
The vote came one month after the group hosted a public hearing on the proposal, which was first floated by Mayor Ron Littlefield in August of last year. The entity will be known as the Moccasin Bend Clean Water Authority and could eventually include utilities surrounding the Chattanooga area and portions of North Georgia.
There was no discussion between council members before the resolution was passed on a voice vote. Councilwoman Deborah Scott, who had voiced concerns to the proposal at past meetings, was absent.
Councilwoman Pam Ladd voted against the resolution.
The measure laid out the structure for a five-member board of commissioners, with each commissioner being nominated by one of five organizations with a vested interest in the city.
Organizations who will have a seat on the five-member board are the Association of General Contractors, the Chattanooga Homebuilders Association, the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce, the Chattanooga Association of Realtors and the Chattanooga Manufacturer's Association.
The resolution also states that board members will serve until June 30, 2013. At that time, the new mayor and the new City Council will be permitted to replace, reappoint or simply lend their endorsement to the panel and their work.
Littlefield has routinely described his proposal as following the structure already laid out by corporate "umbrella" entities existing in and around the city, such as the Electric Power Board or the Chattanooga Airport Authority.
At the December hearing, several council members said they would like to have more opportunities to discuss the proposal in a public setting. Several area utilities have also expressed opposition to the idea of consolidation.
Updated @ 9:35 a.m. on 1/24/13 to add more information.