Another Citizen Speaks Out: Why Are Our Electric Rates Going Up?

Ashland power rates

The Ashland City Council recently approved a 6.18 percent increase in our monthly electrical bill. This comes on top of a 6 percent increase in 2017 and further increases in utility taxes, surcharges and fees also set for July.

While understandable if there were a pass-through rate increase from the company providing our power, most of the hike was for staff pay and benefits, according to Tom McBartlett, Electric Department interim director.

Charging more for the same services you presently provide to pay yourself more would be considered unacceptable by most communities. What’s even more troubling is McBartlett’s response when asked what the department would do if the council didn’t approve the rate hike. He said capital improvement projects would be delayed or cut. Which raises the question: are there nonessential projects in the budget?

A more responsible approach is to demand the department take another look at managing operations and personnel to their budget and identify sources of inefficiency. The total annual compensation in this department averages $155,000 per person.

Asking citizens to pay more for needed city services sometimes can’t be avoided, but justifying a rate hike to pay more for staff already incredibly well compensated is unacceptable.

Kenneth Wilson

Ashland

//inserted by Sharon