An Open Letter to Habersham EMC Members from Board Chairman Rick Wood
Habersham EMC has been the subject of a series of articles in a group of local newspapers that point out important issues that need further explanation from our board. Issues that came up during our annual meeting emphasized the need to communicate more fully and clearly.
Habersham EMC exists to serve its members. Every decision board members make is an attempt to improve the services we offer whether it's through price, reliability or efficiency.
- The management of our EMC overall is stable. We've had two CEOs over a 19-year period. That indicates stability. While there have been changes over the last three years, the board is very confident in the direction of the EMC. A change in employment status for workers at any level always presents sensitive issues: details of contracts, compensation, retirement funds, insurance and reasons for the change. Legally HEMC cannot share those personal details in public, nor do we believe this is the right and respectful way to treat people.
- The board (as set forth in the law and the bylaws of HEMC) sets pay for the CEO and itself, relying on data from other EMCs similar in size from across the region. Due to the changes in leadership and the additional responsibilities, we have had more meetings than usual, so our annual pay has been higher the last few years. Earlier this year we had an outside group do an in-depth study of board compensation. That report was delivered on June 1, and based on the results, we will be considering changes at our next board meeting.
- Compared to rates of other EMCs in Georgia, we do rank among the higher 25 percent, but part of that is due to our mountainous region: maintaining right-of-way is more expensive, responding to outages takes more time and effort. Seventy percent of our rates are set by the power market on which we have no control, but we work hard to lock in contracts that secure good rates for longer time periods.
- We are committed to a fiber optic service that pays for itself and provides better infrastructure for our community. The fiber network is about bringing and keeping jobs in our region; better health care and schools; better power delivery and outage response. And it's about better quality of life for members as well. There's been a very positive response among members for this service.
A handful of members voiced concerns related to these topics at our annual meeting. Please know the new business portion of our annual meeting is set up for action and motions, not for general discussion and comments. We do recognize the need for more member input so we are finalizing plans for member dialogue sessions that will begin by mid-September. More input through a thoughtful process makes us better.
What we want is what our members want - a healthy and vibrant Habersham EMC that best serves all its members. Our theme for this year is Together Today Toward Tomorrow as we focus on delivering a bright future for your EMC. This is our pledge, and we hope you will help us make it so.