One of the biggest challenges the mayor and council have faced in recent years is dealing with the huge increase in energy costs, both electric and gas. They spiked up in 2001 and have not come down since. I have seen a large portion of our citizens struggle to pay the high costs of this energy, especially those on fixed incomes.
Our summer electric rates are higher and our winter rates are lower because we charge each month based on market costs which we cannot control locally. We also know many of our customers have to pay gas heating bills in the winter. We have kept our gas rates 15 percent under all other gas suppliers. When we add the gas and electric together, it levels out the total bill the best we know how.
People also have little choice in the winter except to heat their homes in order to keep warm. In the summer, you can always cut back on air conditioning, if necessary, in order to keep electric consumption down.
We have helped finance our city for years with income from our utility system. In recent years, however, the percent of our income versus the cost of energy has gone down.
The five times I have campaigned for council and mayor, I have never told the public I could reduce electric and gas rates, because most of the cost is at the whim of market forces you cannot control. If you make no profit on your utility systems, you will have to more than triple taxes just to pay for your current police and fire departments.