The EM Utility Rate Change Mystery

According to a friend who attended the March 19, 2013 city council work meeting, the city’s outside consulting firm, Sawvel and Associates, told the council that if the city doesn’t raise its utility rates by 2015 it will no longer be able to make its debt service payments. A few hours later the council voted unanimously to spend $937k on a natural gas pipeline extension, which was essentially a development subsidy for a $3 billion construction company that is building an asphalt plant north of SR-73.

It’s truly astounding that on the same day the city was essentially told it was going insolvent, it decided to spend yet another million dollars of borrowed money, which the residents will now have to pay back via their utility bills. It’s reckless spending like this that’s driving our city into the ground. Note that the consulting company did not suggest that the city council cut spending as a way to solve its financial difficulties.

According to the same resident who attended the April 16 council meeting, the city voted to amend the consolidated fee schedule, which includes the utility rates, in such a way that it would raise utility expenses an average of 3 percent for residents. Gas rates will go down immediately, but electric rates will go up on the November bills, which arrive after the election. The minutes of the meeting quote Ifo Pili, the city administrator, as stating these changes will result in a net decrease for residents. The Mayor’s May newsletter claimed the same thing, although she made it seem like the decreases will be dramatic. Stay tuned for a more detailed analysis of what these rate changes will mean for the average EM household.

For more information feel free to read the city council meeting minutes, but note that these minutes do not contain lot of the discussions witnessed by residents who took notes at these meetings.

City Council Minutes — March 19, 2013
City Council Minutes — April 16, 2013