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Council Upholds Mayor's Veto

Mayor Matt Santini vetoed the portion of the approval of the city's health insurance that would allow council members to be eligible for coverage.

The voted 4 to 0 at a special called meeting to confirm of the council’s .

The council didn’t have much of a choice, as City Attorney David Archer said a vote to override the mayor’s veto would take five council members. Only four were in attendance.

The veto regarded the council voting to cover itself under the city’s health insurance plan. There was no discussion on the issue because the council had talked about it prior to the meeting. Santini said the council was notified of and in agreement with the veto before he filed it with the city clerk Monday afternoon.

“It’s my job to lead this council, and I personally feel like I should have done a better job beforehand to prevent this from happening,” Santini said. “As a group, we deviated from our regular process, and we made a mistake.”

That mistake wasn’t from lack of ethics or love for the city, Santini said.

“It was simply a mistake,” he said. “The expectation is that governments are perfect and, while we try to be perfect, occasionally we get it wrong.”

The council also voted again to approve the renewal of the city’s health care policy with UnitedHealthcare without the council included for coverage.

In other business, the council heard a presentation from representatives of MEAG and Electric Cities of Georgia regarding a proposed electric rate increase. A study has been conducted to determine how the rates should be increased. Director David Myers said he would release the numbers after council approval.

Steve Jackson, MEAG’s vice president of Power Supply, said wholesale costs have been increasing, though they hope to see it begin to level out by 2014. One reason for that is the rising cost of fuel. Jackson said costs have been increasing in the three fuel areas—coal, gas and nuclear.

Another reason is the increase costs for environmental controls at several power plants. At Plant Wansley, MEAG has put in approximately $90,000 in capital for selective catalytic reduction, flue gas scrubbers. At Plant Scherer, environmental controls such as fabric filters, selective catalytic reduction and flue gas scrubbers  planned to be completed in 2013 and 2014 are expected to cost $500 million.

John Lansing, manager of pricing and sales support for the Electric Cities of Georgia, said that while MEAG costs have gone up over the last six years, Cartersville has paced itself, maintaining its same rate. Lansing suggested the city change from an 8-month summer and 4-month winter schedule to a 6-month schedule for both seasons. Even with the proposed rate increase, Cartersville’s summer rate is still 2 cents lower than Georgia Power’s current rate, and the city’s proposed winter rate is almost 1 cent lower than Georgia Power.

Steve Castracane with Lindy said that his company represents 25 percent of the city’s kilowatt hours and that electricity and operating costs have been difficult to contend with, making it increasingly difficult to operate plants, especially in Cartersville. Lindy has had a 16 percent increase on unit costs, Castracane said.

“This is unheard of anywhere in the country,” he said. “We haven’t had double digits anywhere.”

However, Mike Steade with Anheuser-Busch said the brewery in Cartersville also has seen double digit increases.

“Obviously, that has a significant impact on our biz,” he said.

The council is expected to have two readings on the rate increases before a final vote.

EdwardBrown December 09, 2011 at 05:55 AM
People should never forget that real health depends how well you take care of yourself and not what health insurance you carry but I agree health insurance is important for every one. Search "Penny Medical" or online for dollar a day insurance plans.
Michael December 09, 2011 at 12:21 PM
Please thank the mayor for looking out for the citizens of Cartersville. The city has employees without health insurance and it would not have been right for the council to include themselves on the benefit plan as elected officials.

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