Council discusses electric rates and development report
During the April 17 meeting of the city council a discussion was held about electrical rates. Utilities Director Zac Johnson stepped up before the council to go over some of the information shared at a special utilities meeting held on March 13. Johnson had provided the council with current rate sheets, the current revenue, and a breakdown of the cost per kilowatt. Johnson said the reason for the last rate increase in the electric costs was because there had been an increase received by the city for the purchase of wholesale power, which they passed on to their customers, the citizens of Cameron. Johnson offered comparison of the city of Cameron rates to other cities and said the city is very competitive with only Platte- Clay providing a cheaper residential rate – all of that information was provided by the Department of Energy.
“The largest revenue source for the general fund is the transfer from other departments and that includes the utility fund. The utility rates do offer some support for the general fund.” Johnson said and offered a graph to show how much of the general fund is from utility rates.
“Rate increases are not a popular decision, but I do think they are necessary. With this one being a relatively small increase and came from an increase in our wholesale costs, it was staff recommendation to pass that on to the customers. We try to control our costs, but when we receive those costs from outside sources, there is not much we can do.” Johnson continued.
Councilman L. Corey Sloan asked several questions of Johnson, including asking when exactly the city of Cameron began to see the rate increase on their bill, the raw data on what revenue was generated by the rate increase, and asked to see the actual final number amount for the budget year of 2015-2016 to compare to what the budget was for 2016-2017. Johnson said he can have those answers to the council by the next meeting.
There was some discussion by the council and Johnson about the increase many customers saw on their electric bills in the month of December. Johnson said he had spoken to many individual customers during that time and found all information to be accurate, he also said he had checked into the coloration between the usage in town and the amount of wholesale electricity purchased. The idea of offering discounted energy audits and the possibility of checking meters to be certain they are operating correctly were also discussed. The discussion was continued to the next council meeting so Johnson can bring information back to the council.
During the City Manager’s report, Gaugh turned over the floor to Terry Rumrey who was before the council for the monthly report on the progress of bringing business projects to the city. Rumrey spoke to the council about several projects including two big box stores, a sit down style restaurant and two fast food restaurants, all of these projects are still in the beginning stages and take time for them to decide if they will come to Cameron. There is one company who is working through the process of purchasing land in Cameron, there may be more information available on that project closer to June. Rumrey also said the VA Clinic wanted to relocate within Cameron, they are currently looking for possible sites. Rumrey said he has noticed an uptick in prospects since the land purchase by the city. He asked the council for action on the incentives so he knows what can be offered to prospective businesses. Mayor Darlene Breckenridge requested a complete list of incentives be provided to council for review, especially since there is a new council member. Councilman Dennis Clark asked that city staff and the city manager offer come guidance as to what incentives they would like to see offered.
During the remainder of the City Managers report Gaugh reported he called Gayle Drummond about her concerns stated at the last Council meeting about code violations and she seems to have no further concerns. Johnson spoke to the Council about a certificate of excellence received for reliable service to the community by the electric department. There was nothing new to report on the sewer or head start facility projects. The project bid date for the animal shelter is currently scheduled for May 4. Gaugh finished his report to the council talking about the businesses and the junction of 35 and 36 and the progress of the CID district.
During the first public participation Steve Gallus stood before the Council to tell them about a ride planned for Saturday to Jefferson City to encourage motorcycle awareness. Gallus said he and others will gather at the City Hall on Saturday April 22 at 1 p.m. to begin their ride.
Nada Woodworth stood up in front of the Council to tell them about a delivery of trees she is organizing from Missouri Re-leaf who provides free trees in the spring and fall. Woodworth will be at the site to plant trees near the wastewater treatment plant on Wednesday afternoon with a local Boy Scout troop who will help plant the trees as part of a community service project. Woodworth said it is her hope to make this an annual project.
The council dealt with unfinished business of readings on several bills:
Bill 2017-7 – 3rd reading – David Roth/Wicked Arrow conditional use permit; Bill 2017-9 – 2nd reading - Building and electric codes updates and revisions; Bill 2017-10 – 2nd and final reading – Cameron Dragonflies use of city owned property to operate model aircraft; and 2017-11 – 2nd and final reading – Cameron Municipal Band contract (Councilman Clark recused himself from this vote) – all bills passed unanimously without discussion.
The only new business before the council was certification of delinquent taxes and approval of the abatement list. Clerk Barbara O’Connor said the city has done a comparison and every year the amount seems to come down a little bit. The motion was passed unanimously.
During the miscellaneous portion at the end of the meeting, several council members thanks Woodworth for her efforts in the community. Feighert and Sloan both offered their thanks to an absent Drew Bontrager and the city street crews, saying they had heard from various citizens that some work had begun on Ashland Drive. Jack and Gaugh both made statements regarding being aware of motorcyclists year round. The next city council meeting will be Monday May 1, 6 p.m. at City Hall.