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EPUD Board Approves Three Percent Rate Increase

Posted on 13 February 2013 by admin

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Lane County – The Emerald People’s Utility District Board of Directors approved an average three percent rate increase, effective April 1, 2013.  The Board’s decision to adopt the increase came after careful consideration of input received from EPUD staff, the Citizen Advisory Committee on Rates, and the public.

For residential customers, the increase will be implemented through a combination of a $1 increase in the basic charge and a small increase in the kilowatt-hour usage charge. The monthly residential basic charge will increase to $13 and the usage charge will increase from $0.0764/kWh to $0.0783/kWh. This increase will cost the average EPUD residential Customer-Owner an additional $3.50 per month.

EPUD’s highest priority is to provide reliable, cost-effective service to its Customer-Owners. The rate increase is needed to keep pace with rising costs of power and maintenance to EPUD’s distribution facilities. EPUD customer usage also continues to decline, particularly in the industrial sector, and these revenues are no longer available to help cover fixed costs. During the second quarter of 2012, lower revenue forecasts resulted in EPUD facing a six percent rate increase in 2013. Staff took action and made substantial adjustments to their operating budget, including position eliminations and expense deferrals. The resulting 2013 budget allowed EPUD to significantly lessen the rate increase by 50 percent.

While the utility has reduced costs and continues to look for cost-effective ways to operate, there are times when costs must be passed along to avoid impacting service. Citizen Advisory Committees have frequently advised that small, more predictable rate increases are preferable to large, periodic adjustments, and EPUD attempts to follow this strategy when required.

As a not-for-profit public power entity, EPUD provides power to its Customer-Owners at cost, and raises rates only when necessary.  EPUD rates remain among the lowest in the Eugene-Springfield area.

EPUD is a not-for-profit electric utility formed in 1978 by a small group of local citizens who wanted better, customer-oriented service at the lowest possible rates. Today EPUD serves more than 20,000 meters in Lane County, Oregon. EPUD also offers internet and web-hosting services, energy-efficiency rebates, scholarship and job shadow programs, limited-income assistance programs, and online and paperless billing.

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IMG_8039

A tax on the table

Posted on 13 February 2013 by admin

photo by  Vera Westbrook Jay Bozievich wanted county residents to be clear about what a May public safety levy would provide. He said: “It’s going to buy a constant 255 local jail beds every year for the next five years combined with some General Fund we aren’t going to decrease because we are getting a levy,” with 16 youth beds. This amount will be audited and proven to the public.

photo by Vera Westbrook
Jay Bozievich wanted county residents to be clear about what a May public safety levy would provide. He said: “It’s going to buy a constant 255 local jail beds every year for the next five years combined with some General Fund we aren’t going to decrease because we are getting a levy,” with 16 youth beds. This amount will be audited and proven to the public.

County looks closer at public safety levy
By Vera Westbrook

LANE COUNTY – County commissioners reviewed a draft ballot measure for a levy supporting public safety at a Feb. 5 meeting and public hearing, where county staff presented improved language.
Intergovernmental relations manager Alex Cuyler said the changes included dividing the proceeds of the proposed 55-cent tax increase at 91 percent for at least 255 adult jail beds and at nine percent for critical youth services. He also corrected that the yearly increase for a home worth $151,000 would be $85 a year for five years instead of $83.
The following language will also be updated: “This revenue will effectively halt the revolving door at the jail for violent offenders.”  Instead, the redrafted language will say: “Increased jail capacity will substantially improve the sheriff’s ability to hold those accused or convicted of violent crimes until their cases are resolved.” Cuyler also stated that no problem will exist in creating a special revenue fund for levy funds, but that additional General Fund money slated for jail beds will be kept in another fund for accounting reasons.
“We can clearly show how those dollars will be earmarked and dedicated for the purposes of keeping the 255 jail beds open over time,” Cuyler said, to assure accountability of General Fund money allotted to supplement levy dollars.
Additional language will also clarify that Sheriff Tom Turner would present the audit, but that an external auditor will perform the audit.
Commissioner Pat Farr was especially moved by several youths who shared during the public hearing whose lives were significantly improved with the help of youth services. He referred to the testimonies of one youth who is now attending college and another youth who will be graduating from high school with a 3.8 GPA—both accomplished with the aid of youth services.
“It’s remarkable how a few dollars can prevent spending so many dollars later in people’s lives,” Farr said.
Commissioner Pete Sorenson asked county budget manager Christine Moody about budget projections for the General Fund within the next few years, taking into consideration future budget cuts. He also stressed clarity on what the levy revenue will provide, which differs from what the combined General Fund money and levy funds would provide.
To ease fears about General Fund deficits in the future, Moody said, “We will not decrease the percentage of the General Fund that is going to the jail.” Even with projected General Fund deficits predicted for the future, she said, “With the General Fund and the levy fund, there’s enough to fund the 255 beds at least for the five years.”
Because of updated revisions to the ballot measure language, commissioners will wait another week to continue deliberation and to vote on the proposed levy before making a final decision about placing a public safety levy measure on the May ballot.

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