City and County Board Member Training FAQ
Below are answers to the most frequently asked questions regarding the training requirements set out in Tenn. Code Ann. § 7-34-115. Please be aware that the information below is meant to be only a summary of the requirements rather than a comprehensive restatement of the law. You should direct any specific questions about your training and eligibility to your governmental entity’s attorney, or to speak with a utilities specialist, email email@example.com or call the Comptroller’s utility line at 615.747.5260.
Tenn. Code Ann. § 7-34-115(j)(1) provides that a governing body of a municipal or county utility system “that supervises, controls, or operates a public water or public sewer system, including, but not limited to, those systems using a separate utility board pursuant to any public or private act, must meet the training requirements” set out in the statute.
The statute requires board members to attend a minimum of twelve hours of training and continuing education in the approved subject matter within one year of initial appointment or election to the board. After a board member has satisfied his or her initial twelve hours, he or she is required to obtain twelve hours of training every three years thereafter. The first three-year period begins the January 1st after the calendar year in which the board member completes the initial one-year training period. Tenn. Code Ann. § 7-34-115(j)(2)-(3)(B).
Tenn. Code Ann. § 7-34-115(j)(5) provides that “[a]ny association or organization with appropriate knowledge and experience may prepare a training and continuing education curriculum for municipal utility board commissioners covering the subjects set forth in subdivision (j)(4) to be submitted to the comptroller of the treasury for review and approval prior to use.”
Pursuant to the requirements in Tenn. Code Ann. § 7-34-115(j)(7)(A), the Comptroller’s Office provides online training at no cost for board members of municipalities and counties that oversee a water and/or wastewater system. The Comptroller’s Office also offers periodic training classes at various locations throughout the State. For questions about Comptroller training opportunities, contact the Comptroller’s utility line at 615-747-5260 to speak with a utilities specialist.
Tenn. Code Ann. § 7-34-115(j)(4) provides that the subject matter for training includes, but is not limited to, “board governance, financial oversight, policy-making responsibilities, and other topics reasonably related to the duties of the members of the board of commissioners of a municipal utility.”
The Comptroller’s Office will approve internal training so long as it is compliant with all requirements for training set out in Tenn. Code Ann. § 7-34-115.
Training curricula must be submitted to the Comptroller’s Office for review and approval prior to use. Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 7-34-115(j)(5) & (j)(7)(B)-(C).
Any organization wishing to have its training approved should submit a detailed syllabus and the appropriate supporting documentation here for approval. For questions, you may contact a utilities specialist at the above email address or call the comptroller’s utility line at 615.747.5260.
Tenn. Code Ann. § 7-34-115(j)(5) provides that any changes and updates to your curriculum must be submitted to the Comptroller’s office for approval prior to use. The statute further requires that “any training and continuing education curriculum approved by the comptroller must be updated every three (3) years and resubmitted to the comptroller for review and approval.”
Tenn. Code Ann. § 7-34-115(j)(8) requires that “By January 31 of each year, each municipal utility board commissioner shall file with the municipality an annual written statement on a form developed by the comptroller of the treasury that certifies the training and continuing education courses attended by the commissioner during the prior calendar year...For years in which the municipal utility board commissioner did not attend training or continuing education courses, the commissioner shall file an annual written statement certifying that the commissioner attended no training that year. A municipality shall keep a copy of an annual written statement filed pursuant to this subdivision (j)(8) for six (6) years following the calendar year in which the annual written statement was filed."
Tenn. Code Ann. § 7-34-115(j)(7)(E) requires that for online training, board commissioners should submit certificates of completion or attendance to the governmental entity they represent. The governmental entity should then maintain the certificate for six years after the calendar year in which the certificate is submitted. Also, it is best practice for board members to maintain copies of the appropriate supporting documentation, including proof of attendance or completion certificates, for all types of training for at least two continuing education periods.
Pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. § 7-34-115(j)(6), a board commissioner may request a training extension of up to six months from the Comptroller’s Office. The law requires that the request “only be granted upon a reasonable showing of substantial compliance with this subject (j). If the extension is granted, the municipal utility board commissioner must complete any additional required training hours necessary to achieve full compliance for only the relevant continuing education period within the extension period. The municipal utility board commissioner shall file. copies of any extension request letters and corresponding comptroller of the treasury determination letters with the water and wastewater financing board.”
What if a board member fails to receive the required training on time and fails to receive an extension?
The Water and Wastewater Financing Board will have full discretion to order reasonable sanctions against the municipality that the board member represents. Tenn. Code Ann. § 7-34-115(k).