Rural Water - Quarter 1, 2008 - (Page 30)

Fiduciary Responsibility – It’s All About Trust BY CURT LUDVIGSON, MANAGEMENT TECHNICIAN, RURAL WATER ASSOCIATION OF UTAH WHAT DOES THE WORD “FIDUCIARY” REALLY MEAN? Webster’s Dictionary says it means: “Held or holding in trust. Legally responsible for what belongs to another. Of a trustee; of trust and confidence: A guardian acts in a fiduciary capacity, depending upon public trust and confidence for its value.” In other words, we are “trusted” to take care of something that really isn’t ours. How does that apply to our positions in our communities, districts, water companies, etc.? Certainly, whatever your role is, you have fiduciar y responsibilities. Now you may ask yourself a couple of questions: “Do they really trust me?” And a more pointed question may be: “Do I deserve their trust?” As elected officials and employees of your communities, you are entrusted to do several things. I would like to address just a few things that I think you are responsible for and that your citizens are depending on you to take care of. Of course, they depend on you to look after their money. The taxes, water revenues, sewer revenues and other money isn’t yours, it’s theirs! They count on you to be honest and ethical. It is very important that you have a good “checks and balances” policy in 30 • First Quarter 2008 place and that you follow that policy. You should never have just one person receiving the money, making the deposits and reconciling the books. Also, it is not a good policy to have people signing their own checks. Good policies and practices are for the protection of the community, the leaders and the employees. Don’t allow your policies to be so relaxed that people are tempted to act in a dishonest way. Part of your responsibilities is to make sure that your ordinances, resolutions and bylaws are up to date. You need to know what your laws say. I visit many places and find that the leaders in the community have not even read these laws. Sometimes they don’t even know that they have them on the books. This is most often a problem as community leaders change. I would make a suggestion that in your city councils, town boards, district boards and water company boards, spend some time in each meeting going over the various laws that you have on your books, making sure everyone involved knows your laws and the policies that enforce those laws. This also provides the best opportunity for someone to suggest changes to the laws that govern your community. Now I know it will take time to do this, and you say that you don’t have time. My response to that is, “Make the time! It’s too important not to!” Consider for a minute the consequences if you violate your own laws or if your laws are so outdated that they are more harmful than helpful. There is also the possibility that you don’t have laws on the books at all that cover certain situations. For example, do your ordinances, resolutions or bylaws address appropriately the subject of water line extensions and who pays for them? Do they address the turning off of someone’s water because of delinquent payment, or mandatory connections to the system, or situations where water is being wasted? Additionally, do you have a law on the books that addresses growth issues and development, including water rights and source development, to accommodate such issues? These are only a few examples of things that need to be in a good water ordinances, resolutions or bylaws. Do you have a good cross-connection law?

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Water - Quarter 1, 2008

Rural Water - Quarter 1, 2008
From the President
Afterburn: Nexters' Impact in the Workplace
Retirement Will Have to Wait
From Sewage, Added Water for Drinking
Rural Water and the Farm Bill
Fiduciary Responsibility: It's All About Trust
Water Industry Supports International Rural Water Association
Regulatory Update
The Rural Water Washington Rally in April
Throwing My Loop
A Precious Thing Called Water
Index to Advertisers
From the CEO

Rural Water - Quarter 1, 2008