pending Council approval in December. The Council has approved rate increases for its utility every year since 2009, Lewis said. Lewis blames the cost increases on federal environmental regulations.
“It’s coming out of EPA,” Lewis said. “Thebig hang-up now is that EPA is taking it on themselves to control a lot of this stuff under the existing laws that regulate green house gases.” Lewis pointed out that in 2011, Marietta Power absorbed $3.2 million in expenses rather than pass it on to ratepayers, while in 2012 it absorbed $1.8 million.
Marietta Power is projected to have a reserve fund going into fiscal year 2013, which begins July 1, of $27.2 million, well above the $24 million required by Council. And Marietta Power will transfer $11.5 million to the city’s general fund, just as it does every year.
Lewis said the Council could use the $11.5 million to pay for the proposed fee increases, “but then the question is where does the city get $11.5 million? Do you want to run everybody’s millage rate up?” Mayor Steve Tumlin, who chairs Marietta Power’s governing board, said the rate projections “are probably pretty accurate.” “We’re on notice from the Cobb-Marietta Water Authority, we’re on notice from the Cobb Sewer and MEAG, they’ve already done their budget for 2013, so we’re going to have to pay them,” Tumlin said. From a political perspective, Tumlin said it was a matter of picking your poison: utility fee increases or raising property taxes. “Wearing my (Board of Lights and Water) hat, I think it’s a business mandate. Being the chairman of the BLW, I think we have a fiduciary responsibility to run it like a business, and running away from hard decisions is not good,