The information Councilman Brett Garlick furnished in his guest commentary of Feb 10, "Critic's accusations are unfounded" is completely false. Mr. Garlick claimed I accused the city council of 1) illegally meeting in closed door sessions, 2) inappropriately increasing power rates and 3) scheming to use proceeds of the sale of electric company property to build a new police station.
The text of my speech to the city council refutes these statements:
"My name is Orwin Draney, a Kaysville resident for 71 years. Mayor Hiatt, members of the city council, I just drove 300 miles to be here for this meeting to ask the questions that people are asking me for which I have no answers.
"Prior to the vote to raise the Power Utility Rates by 9.65 percent, this city council held five closed meetings to discuss 'acquisition and sale of Property.' (5/15/12, 7/17/12, 8/7/12, 9/4/12, and 9/18/12) Immediately after the rate increase was passed, the sale of the Flint property was announced. In those five meetings the amount of the proceeds to be gained by this sale most certainly were discussed. The amount of the proceeds as announced $5,319,138.72 was four times what the rate increase would raise in the fiscal year 2013.
"If that amount was going to be returned to the Electric Utility Enterprise Fund during fiscal year 2013 as promised, Why was a rate increase needed?
How soon after the $5.3 million is received by the Electric Utility Enterprise Fund can we expect to see the rescinding of the power rate increase?
"If this $5.3 million is not going to be used to decrease the rates the citizens of Kaysville pay for electricity and maintenance to the Electrical Utility Enterprise Fund, "Just what do you plan to do using the electric rate payer's money ?
"Was the rate increase passed before the sale was announced so that this city council could use the money gained for other purposes, because they had 'taken care' of the power company's needs with the rate increase?
"On Jan. 21, 2012, John Thacker stated: 'He is hearing from the police department that additional personnel is more important than a new police station. The city is not looking at constructing a new police station at this time unless some funding can be found.' After taking money from our electric fund to hire new police officers, are you now looking at our electric fund as a source of funding for a new police station?
"This is electric fund money and should be used for electric utility purposes only!"
I read this speech verbatim. I made no accusations. I asked five valid questions in the city council meeting. Those questions remain unanswered.
The announced topic of the five closed meetings was "The acquisition and sale of property." The sale price of the Flint property was surely discussed. According to the
"Purchase and Sales Agreement for the Flint Property," obtained by GRAMA request:
"1. The total sale price $5,319,138.72. .... The proceeds of the sale will be returned to the Electric Utility Enterprise Fund." The 9.65 percent rate increase was not needed with the return of that money to the fund.
Mr. Garlick accused me of being "uninformed and unqualified to address such important issues." I believe that I am informed, and the only qualification I need to question the activities and procedures of city officials, Mr. Garlick included, is to be a resident of Kaysville.
Based on the history of Kaysville City Council's use of Electric Utility Enterprise Funds for non-electric purposes, the electric fund rate payers of Kaysville have every right to ask questions and have suspicions about what they intend to do with the proceeds "returned" to the electric fund. Over the last 33 years, they have taken more than $22 million from our electric fund and used it for non-electrical purposes.(Information from Dean Storey, the City Finance Director's records obtained by GRAMArequests.) The Kaysville Public Power Information Sheet states, "Each Power utility is different ... but all have a common purpose of safely providing reliable electricity at a reasonable price." A sum of $22 million of overcharges for non-electric purposes is not a "reasonable price."
The city council has a responsibility to answer to the citizens of Kaysville who elected it. The council is spending millions of dollars of taxpayers' money. It is not right to hide behind a smokescreen of accusations, misrepresentation and disregard for the people of this community.
We pay our electric bill to purchase electricity and electrical infrastructure maintenance in the city, and expect the money to be used for those purposes. By taking and using our electric fund money for other purposes, the city council avoids holding truth in taxation hearings. They also have avoided, until last year, holding mandatory public hearings when money is transferred from a utility enterprise fund to other funds in the city.
At the end of his commentary, Mr. Garlick verbally attacked me again for not supporting the Kaysville City Police Department and the building of a new police station. Mr. Garlick still doesn't get it! I support our police department and I do not oppose the building of a police station. What I am opposed to is using the money that we pay for electricity and infrastructure maintenance for non-electric purposes. Why is Mr. Garlick lobbying for a new police station in his comments at the end of his commentary if it is not one of the ideas that the council is considering?
Police officers and police stations should be paid for from property taxes and the general fund, not out of electric utility funds. Why is that so hard to understand?
Orwin Draney lives in Kaysville.