Birmingham Water Works Board (BWWB) chairman Chris Rice might not be allowed to rescind his resignation, according to a letter from the city attorney on Thursday.

Rice attempted to withdraw his resignation Wednesday, less than a week after submitting his letter of resignation to the mayor.

Rice officially submitted his resignation on September 6. Now, he is claiming his resignation was made under duress.

City attorney Nicole E. King, in a letter to K. Mark Parnell, Rice's attorney, said her office has determined that Rice's resignation from the BWWB was "appropriately tendered." King said the resignation was effective as soon as Rice submitted it to the mayor.

Earlier this week, another one of Rice's attorneys, Bruce L. Gordon, told the BWWB that Rice never officially submitted a letter of resignation to the board itself. He only sent a letter to the office of Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin.

Gordon said Rice submitted a letter to the mayor shortly after rescinding his resignation.

According to BWWB vice chairman William "Butch" Burbage, Jr., the BWWB couldn't act on the letter because it is outside the board's jurisdiction.

"If a public officer or employee transmits an unconditional resignation to be effective immediately and he intends that it reach the authority entitled to receive it, his resignation is effective at that point," wrote King. "... The officer or employee may not withdraw such a resignation even though there has been no acceptance by the authority entitled to receive it."

King said the city clerk filed Rice's resignation on September 8 in compliance with BWWB's governing documents.

"Because the resignation letter was properly tendered and was effective immediately, the resignation may not be withdrawn," wrote King.

Rice was appointed by Woodfin in 2021. He was elected chair in January 2022. 

Rice's resignation is the latest of a series of controversies surrounding the BWWB this year. 

Media reports said thousands of customers didn't receive bills for months. Later, they received much larger or multiple bills all at once.

The bills were also not based on accurate meter readings but estimations based on previous months. Birmingham Water Works blamed a lack of meter readers and insufficient staffing for the issue.

The issues have drawn the attention of public figures on both sides of the aisle, including Woodfin, a Democrat, and State Sen. Jabo Waggoner (R-Vestavia Hills).

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