City Council eyes plan to protect electric reserve

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 23, 2007

FRANKLIN—At its annual retreat, the City Council agreed to establish a reserve level for the electric department reserve fund and to develop policies dealing with borrowing and paying money back to the fund.

A citizen’s group, which has been researching primarily the issue of money transferred from the electric fund to the general fund over the years and rates, has given two presentations to council.

The city is in its second of five years of reducing its dependence on the electric reserve by $150,000 a year.

Councilman Charles Wrenn said, &uot;At some point I suggested rather than manage the electric fund this way, we could use some swag of what should be appropriate for the electric fund amount and seek to maintain that reserve for the electric department.

&uot;There’s no need to take the money and put it under the mattress for later when the city could use it for operations, the educational savings account or whatever, rather than manage it by how much we’re going to take out.&uot;

He said the electric department belongs to all citizens.

&uot;I think we’re going about it backwards.&uot;

Wrenn also brought up that council had received a lot of criticism regarding the policies of making the transfers and asked if any rules had been violated.

City Manager Bucky Taylor told him that council had not.

&uot;So we haven’t broken any rules, we just need more rules?&uot; Wrenn asked.

&uot;If council agrees to maintain a certain reserve, and then you disturb that reserve, shouldn’t you have the obligation to let council know? Is that fair?&uot;

&uot;That’s fair,&uot; said Taylor.

Strategies for addressing the electric fund reserve, as well as other funds, will be developed and brought back to council as well as policies for transfers.

&uot;This needs to be done before we talk about the budget process for January ’08,&uot; said Taylor.

Other issues involving the electric department were the recommendation by the citizen’s group to establish an independent commission.

&uot;We need more time to look at the pros and cons,&uot; said City Councilwoman Mary Hilliard.

A work session will be held regarding that issue and about the department’s rates on Monday prior to the City Council’s meeting in Council Chambers at City Hall.

According to the city, Franklin’s rates are currently cheaper than Dominion or Community Electric.

The electric department will also be working with the police department about street lighting versus security lighting. Streetlights are used to light the streets and not adjacent properties. This issue comes on the heels of resident concerns over their safety in certain areas of the city where they say more lights are needed.