Franklin residents in the dark about their bills

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 11, 2007

To the Editor:

There has been increasing discussion regarding our electrical department and its current organization. We may elect to change its structure in the future, but two things are certain. The electric department is being used to prop up the overspending in the general fund, and this is not in the best interest of Franklin in the long term.

I asked myself, “How much is this costing me?” I looked at my electric bill and determined that we had used 12,989 kilowatts over the past 12 months. I then obtained the current rate of the town of Culpeper, a town that buys its electricity at the same rate as Franklin. What do you think I found? I found we are charged 12 percent more than Culpeper, for the same power.

Bringing it closer to home, I then determined how much this inflated rate was costing my family per year. It costs this good-old boy $1,324 per year, or $110 per month. (You can get an idea of what it costs you by looking at the statement you just received multiplying your usage by $10.21 per thousand).

If you multiply my average overcharge by the number of good-old boys in Franklin then you get an astonishing overcharge of $5,300,000 per year. (That is every year.) Where did it go?

This is a lot of chicken feed. It appears that six council members and one mayor has done slipped around my back door and gotten into my hen house, without my permission.

They did not come to us and ask for a property tax increase to close the general fund budget gap, as this is a tougher sell. Rather, they chose a less transparent funding source. Perhaps our local government could hire itself out as consultants to Richmond and Washington on how to use financial mirrors.

Part of the solution may well be the reorganization of the electrical department to insure the well being of that asset over the longer term, and to curtail its current abuse. The core problem however is reforming the spending habits at city hall. That reform requires political will, which may be scarce commodity in Franklin.

Bob Trainor