"I'll explain in detail the time spent and money saved and how the duties are above and beyond the duties anticipated in the summer of 2007, when the 2008 budgets were set," Ricketts said. "In no way did this year's budget anticipate or compensate anybody for the additional chores of bringing the water utility back to city's supervision."
At stake is the utility board's decision to pay Ricketts $15,000 a year over his $65,000 salary for work he'd do related to the city's water and sewer services. The board also approved additional paychecks of $12,500 for Controller Kimberly M. Diller and $3,600 for the board's secretary.
Another $65,000 was set aside for a graphic information system coordinator.
"These were not duties that were part of the mayor's job when I ran for it," said Ricketts, who added that an $80,000 yearly salary puts his pay in line with that of mayors of cities of similar size.
Lawrence officials and Utility Service Board members have been overseeing the operations of the city's utilities since late 2007, when a city lawsuit with the services' former private operator was settled.
"I have probably spent 25 to 35 percent of my time, additional time, working on the water ... situation," Ricketts said. "I don't see that stopping in the near future.
"It's common for a utility service board to pay a portion of a mayor's salary, according to Ricketts."If you go around the state, you'll find that the utility sometimes pays half," he said.
The water deal former Mayor Tom Schneider cooked up to line the pockets of his political cronies just won't go away. Even in getting the city-owned utility back in the city's control, its cost to taxpayers just keep piling up. Last year, former Mayor Cantwell entered into a controversial settlement with the private company which took control of the water utility under Mayor Schneider, agreeing to pay it $2 million after years of litigation. It had already been established that the deal Schneider entered into with his pals was illegal under Indiana law. Some observers believe the settlement agreement may have cost Cantwell her re-election. Ironically, cronies of newly-elected Mayor Ricketts benefitted most from that controversial settlement.