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Aldermen Discuss Budget, Summer Slide

The Acworth City Council debates spending decisions for the future.

The budget of the and ways to trim it were on the minds and lips of the mayor and Board of Aldermen at their weekly work session Monday evening.

City Manager Brian Bulthuis presented the updated budget for fiscal 2011 and projected budget for fiscal 2012. According to projections, the city will have earned $51,000 in revenues beyond expenditures by the end of this fiscal year. The city was able to turn a profit while seeing a 5 percent decrease in property tax revenues and a projected 7 percent increase in insurance payments.

The Acworth Power System saw a 5 percent return on investment over this year. The system's income for 2011 was $644,000, but Bulthuis stressed that this would not become the norm, as the falling price of power generation created a perfect storm of profitability. Revenue for the Power System came in at $11.5 million in 2011. Estimates of revenue in 2012 sit at $11.9 million.

In late fiscal 2012, the Power System will implement an environmental compliance cost recovery charge to power bills. This charge, based on use of kilowatt-hours, is intended to lessen the burden of federally mandated energy-efficiency upgrades to power plants nationwide. This measure is expected to generate $100,000 in revenue.

Aldermen Bob Weatherford and Tim Richardson balked at the current rates for the Acworth Power System compared with Georgia Power and Cobb EMC. While Acworth's rates are lower than Georgia Power's, Cobb EMC's rates are less than the Acworth Power System's.

Richardson said the Power System should become more efficient.

“Right now, it's run like a government,” he said. “I'd like to see it run like a business.” He hopes the 5 percent return in 2011 can be repeated in future years.

Further areas of contention included an aldermen expense account for food and a new home inspection technique mandated by the state.

Richardson opposes spending taxpayer money on what amount to personal expenses. He requested that the budget be amended to bring his food expense account to zero dollars.

A law passed late last year mandated that all new homes in Georgia must pass a “blower door test” to detect areas of the home where air is leaking out, causing the house to be less energy efficient. The debate on this issue boiled down to who should carry out the inspections.

Loyd Fasselt, a city building official, proposed the city purchase a door blower unit for $7,200 and perform tests for $325. With more than 100 new homes expected to be built in Acworth next year, the machine would quickly pay for itself and generate revenue for the city.

Richardson said the job of inspecting new homes should be given to local contractors, who would let the free market decide the proper price for the door blower inspection. Furthermore, Richardson said the Community Development Department is bloated, and he proposed firing one building inspector to save the taxpayers money.

Other items that were discussed Monday include:

  • Eric Ressler and Ron Dilbeck of Dilbeck and Ressler Investments brought before the board a potential agreement with the city to construct a 175-foot slide at either Acworth Beach or for summer festivities. Although no location was set, Dillbeck and Ressler agreed to pay the city 10 percent of gross sales.

  • The main air-conditioning unit at the has failed. Bulthuis received three quotes for replacing the unit, one for under $10,000 and two for more than $10,000.

  • A power transformer near has become overloaded and will need to be replaced. A new, more powerful transformer will take 12 to 16 weeks to arrive.

  • Rusty Blackwood, director of the Acworth Power System, informed the board of his decision to replace the system's bucket truck, which has been in use since 1990; $200,000 has been allocated in the budget to accomplish this. The truck would arrive in the middle of next year.

Dan Davis May 05, 2011 at 01:20 AM
"While Acworth's rates are lower than Georgia Power's, Cobb EMC's rates are less than the Acworth Power System's." That's pretty hard to believe. What data were used to reach this conclusion? According to GA PSC data, Cobb EMC's average annual rates over the past 15 years were higher than GA Power's, not lower. A true comparison would have to include all additional fees (e.g., the Wholesale Power Adjustment), not just base rates.
Justin Ove May 05, 2011 at 05:15 AM
Mr. Davis, There may be additional fees that are included that make Cobb EMC more expensive; I believe the graph displayed at the meeting was the rate for KwH only. City Manager Bulthuis explicitly stated that in that regard Acworth Power System had strove to have rates between GA Power and Cobb EMC. I Hope this clears up your questions. Justin Ove
Dan Davis May 05, 2011 at 04:17 PM
Thanks very much. Yes, that provides some clarification. I believe if the three utilities are compared based on total cost to the customer per kWh the results would be quite different. Also, a spot comparison is rarely valid, since summer and winter rates are different, and rates vary according to usage. Average annual total cost per kWh - across all usage levels - is a more useful metric. Even more appropriate is a trending analsis of total cost per kWh across five years or more.

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