The city of North Branch is accepting applications to fill a vacancy on the North Branch Water and Light Commission.

During the North Branch City Council meeting May 25, the council accepted the resignation of Terry Smith as chair of the North Branch Water and Light Commission and formally declared a vacancy on the commission.

Smith announced his resignation at the Water and Light Commission meeting on May 19.

“When I applied for the utility commission 10 months ago, I felt my 23 years of service and experience on government boards would help bring a degree of professionalism that was needed on both the Water and Light Commission and the utilities general operations to ensure customers are receiving the best possible value in water and electrical services,” Smith said during the May 19 meeting. “The mayor told me at the time actually that the problem was the city needs to stay out of water and light business and the water and light needs to stay out of city business and we need to work cooperatively for the benefit of the residents and I agreed. I thought that’s what we needed to do.

“Since then, at least in my opinion, I’ve observed what appears to be just a continue meddling, city meddling, little interest in a real true cooperative relationship. It has been a pleasure working with all of you, especially General Manager Scott Hautala, but effective immediately I am submitting my resignation,” Smith added.

Council Member Patrick Meacham thanked Smith for his efforts on the Water and Light Commission.

“I just want to say to anyone who may listen. First of all, I think Commissioner Smith did a great job over the last nine-ish months, 10 months. Anyone who watched a meeting, he held it together. He chaired the meetings well,” Meacham said. “From my time in North Branch over the last six years, I have seen that the Water and Light Commission is probably one of the more hot button commissions. I think we’re going to miss his civic leadership on there. But I think to those in the community, now that there’s an opening, what a great time to be potentially part of what’s going on in the city.

“It stinks anytime we lose a commissioner, but whether you’re for more working with the city on Water and Light or against it, or trying to just move that commission, move that utility into its next phase, I think it’s an awesome opportunity for anyone to become more involved and do their civic duty here in the city. You have other members of the commission that are more than happy to work with you and a council that is willing to look at all options on the table and the GM has said the same, that he’s willing to look at all options. I would just encourage anyone who’s interested in making a difference in the community to apply or talk to us or any of the commissioners about the position,” Meacham added.

City Administrator Renae Fry explained Water and Light Commission applicants need to be either a business owner in the city or a resident in the city who uses water and/or electricity, since two non-users are already on the commission.

Applications can be found on the city of North Branch’s website, www.ci.north-branch.us. Applications need to be received by the city by noon on Friday, June 18; the council plans to review them at its June 22 regular meeting.

The person appointed to fill the vacancy will serve on the commission until December 2021.

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