Jimmy Junkin tendered his resignation as executive director of the Brunswick-Glynn County Joint Water and Sewer Commission on Friday, a day after the utility commission discussed his job in a closed session.
A majority of the JWSC’s seven-member governing body wanted him gone, said sources speaking on the condition of anonymity. Anonymous sources also said Junkin’s role as director was the subject of heated discussions in more than one closed session, the latest of which was held during Thursday’s JWSC meeting.
Junkin declined to comment on the matter Friday, saying he had spoken with some commissioners and wanted to wait for their response before saying anything publicly.
“I really can’t say anything about it. They need to take what I talked about and consider it amongst themselves,” Junkin said.
The utility released a statement Friday morning that read simply: “On Friday, May 3, 2019, Jimmy Junkin stated his desire to resign as executive director. A special called meeting regarding this will be held at the JWSC office at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, May 8, 2019.”
The JWSC’s office is located at 1703 Gloucester St. in Brunswick.
Commission Chairman Ben Turnipseed said Thursday that Junkin would be going on leave starting Friday, but declined to comment on any resignation.
Vice-chairman Steven Copeland also declined to comment.
“All I would be able to say is, he’s tendered his resignation. We’re going to get together on Wednesday and go over that and consider it,” Copeland said.
Junkin did have support in closed-session discussions, according to anonymous sources, but those supportive of him were in the minority.
Some don’t want to see him go.
“I supported Jimmy Junkin and thought he was doing a good job, and I’d really hate to see him go,” utility Commissioner Wayne Neal said. “He wasn’t perfect in the job, but I felt that the JWSC was making moves forward.”
Anonymous sources say Junkin’s resignation is essentially sealed and that the utility’s official acceptance of the letter is a formality, but that he may stay on in a consultant role.
Junkin came to the Golden Isles from Tuscaloosa, Ala., where he served as director of the Tuscaloosa Water and Sewer Department. The JWSC hired him in June 2016, but he did not formally take the role until August that year, nearly eight months after the utility commission voted to fire its previous director.
He made waves early on in his tenure with candid comments about the extent of repairs needed to bring the existing public water and sewer systems up to peak condition. The number was as high as $150 million for repairs and rehabilitation of the system already in place, not including planned expansions.
Throughout his nearly three years in the position, Junkin remained focused on repairing and maintaining the existing system. On more than one occasion, Junkin noted that rapid expansion by previous utility administrations was at least partially to blame for the poor state of existing assets.
Junkin oversaw successful efforts to increase sewer flow capacity on St. Simons Island and in the north mainland region of Glynn County, which were pushing the limits of their capacity.
He also presided over a major increase in sewer tap-in fees, an increase of the water and sewer rates and a later restructuring of said rates that led to increases for low-usage customers.
The tap-in fee increase brought with it significant backlash from the business community, and the utility commission eventually lowered it again, though not to the point they had been prior.
Afterward, Junkin maintained the fees would not be enough to cover the cost the utility incurred by adding new buildings to the system.