The two petitions are once again on the city council agenda to be discussed by the council this Thursday, May 21st, 2015.
The agenda also introduces some parallel discussions, including a request by the city manager asking the council to allow the City Manager to seek and advertise for proposals from a Professional CPA who is properly qualified, to perform the following studies.
Examine the City’s current Electrical Rates, expenditures, and City Revenues to determine the adequacy of the current electrical rate structure relative to the City’s budget requirements.
Examine the City’s current costs and/or expenses associated with the City’s Electrical Distribution System and Electrical Production System along with other departments which may contain electrical line items costs as compared to the electrical rates charged to the customers of the Electrical Distribution System.
Examine the short term and long term financial impact of the City’s budget with regards to the potential divestiture of the City’s Electrical Distribution System and/or reduction in electrical rates as required by the proposed ordinances and petitions.
Examine the alternative sources of revenues required to make up the estimated shortfall should the City Of Coleman be required to lower electrical rates and or divest the City of the Electrical Distribution System.
Although I certainly welcome studies to determine the profitability of the electrical system and of course recognition of the alternate sources of revenue, this agenda item does beg the question: Why now?
We have been asking for such studies since October. Multiple people have performed similar studies (at no charge) and submitted the results to the city manager, council members as well multiple others in the position to make or help make executive decisions for the city. When I asked Mr. Jeffery Gay (expert hired by city on several occasions to give advice relating to the electrical issues) if he had seen the studies, he stated he had never seen them, yet reiterated during the town hall meeting that selling the system would be detrimental to the city. When I asked Mr. Pat Chesser, city attorney, after the May 7th, council meeting if he had ever reviewed the documentation that myself and others had prepared on the profitability (or lack thereof) of the system, he also answered no, but I trust Geoffrey Gay, who is an expert in the field.
I am glad that there will be a study, but just who do you think will be doing the study?
And again, why now?
The city must make one of 3 decisions within 30 days of May 7th (June 6th)
(a) Pass the initiated ordinance, without amendment, within thirty (30) days after the date of the certification to the Council; or
(b) Submit said initiated ordinance, without amendment, to a vote of the registered voters of the City at a regular or special election to be held within ninety (90) days after the date of the certification to the Council; or
(c) At such election, submit to a vote of the registered voters of the City said initiated ordinance without amendment, and an alternative ordinance on the same subject proposed by the Council.
Now there is actually a 4th option and that is to call the petitions “inappropriate” and therefore not subject to initiative. Basically, this means they may try to say they don't have to honor these petitions because they believe they deal with subject matters that citizens do not have the right to petition against or for. This fourth option is not really a very good option and will end up costing EVERYONE a lot of time and money and we are very certain the city will lose in the long run as they find the courts will uphold our right to petition.
So again why now? This study cannot be done within 14 days. And it cannot alter the opinion of any judge, nor can it change whether the petitions are appropriate or not.
Of note, I had actually hoped that the city council would have put on last weeks special called May 14th, agenda some discussions on this electrical issue (as I mentioned during the discussions May 7th, that there is a limited amount of time.) but this was not the case. So here we are, already running out of time to make informed decisions. Multiple requests for studies since October, multiple attempts to help them with the decision process by providing as much information as we could garner and multiple attempts to sit down and talk with the council members and not a single member has actually read any of the studies. Now with only a few days left to go … there is a request for a study -- that cannot be used in this particular decision process!
So again, why now?
My hope, is that the city leaders have actually decided they want to honor the pleas of the people and do the right thing by allowing these petitions to make it to the ballot in November. The study of course will be used later to show you, the citizens of Coleman, who now pay the highest electrical rate in Texas, just how much the city will lose if we should sell the system (all in an attempt to get you to vote to keep the high rates).
Yes, this is just my opinion and yes it is a bit poignant, but call me a bit skeptical that these studies are in the best interest of the citizens.
If you do decide to attend the meeting this Thursday (May 21st, 6:00 pm) and would like to speak, please be sure to fill out the new form. You cannot speak without filling out the form. Personally, I'm not sure if it is worth the effort as there is going to be an executive session (behind closed doors) where the decision will be made without citizen participation.
We'll let you know what happened Friday and give you an update on the next steps in the legal process (which is dependent on the council decision) of setting Coleman free of this horrific burden. Once Coleman votes to shed this weight we can begin to grow and be the city we once were.
Thank you to all who have taking the time to get informed and have been a constant support during this important process. To those who have not taken the time to actually become educated with the actual numbers behind the electrical system, I encourage you to do so. You will find that there is no financial justification for keeping the system. It costs both the city and the citizens dearly. No jobs need to be lost, no services need to be cut and no bankruptcy is even remotely likely. The numbers confirm this! If they did not, the people you see supporting this movement could not and would not have done so!
Think about it! Those who have not studied the documentation are against the sale, those that have actually looked into this in any depth have all come to the same conclusion --- the system does not make a real profit and the citizens and businesses pay a premium that is destroying the town from the inside out.
The studies I have referred to are in the forum. More updated figures will be released soon and of course we now have an “expert study” just around the corner which we look forward to with eagerness and will certainly review. There is just no reason you cannot know the truth about this subject, unless of course you have decided you just don't want to know, since if you did, you might just be forced to accept “a different truth”
May our Lord give us much more grace and mercy than any of us, myself in particular, deserve as we walk though this complex time in Coleman's future.