City of Griffin Electric Director Bill Bosch and Assistant Director Tom Ridgway came forward to discuss the city’s electrical rates during the morning workshop. Bosch said the current rate was set in 1996 and did not include the costs of the Wansley combined-cycle plant and the cost of additional purchased power.
“Over those 13 years, we’ve incurred a lot of extra costs,” Bosch said. “We’ve tried to absorb (them) in our day-to-day business.”
He proposed new rates to encourage energy conservation during the summer. Rates would rise from 9.25 cents per kilowatt-hour to 10.29 cents per kilowatt hour during the summer; winter rates would actually decline from 9.94 to 9.27 cents per kilowatt-hour.
Public Works Director Brant Keller came forward to explain why the city needed to increase its water rates.
“We need to start replacing and rehabbing and lining some of our water infrastructure,” he said.
He said infrastructure repairs to water pipes cost $750,000 per mile and for wastewater pipes $850,000 per mile. In order to pay for this, he proposed increases to all three tiers of water consumption, which will increase the average water bill for those in the lowest tier to $25.64, those in the middle tier to $35.38 and those in the highest tier to $46.55. He also recommended the stormwater fee be increased from $3.73 to $4.83 in order to help meet expensive mandates, cover the increased cost of materials and help prevent flooding in certain parts of Griffin.
If the proposed increases were made to the electric and all the water rates, city customers would pay an average increase $11.25 on their bills.
No action was taken at the meeting on the proposed rate increases.
City Manager Kenny Smith explained the city’s proposed changes to the retiree health benefits policy at the morning workshop. The city will contribute $100 per month to the Medicare Advantage plan of a single retiree and $200 per month for a retiree who is married. For employees younger than 65 and ineligible for Medicare, the city will contribute $200 per month for a single retiree and $400 per month for a retiree with a spouse.
Smith said actuarial studies showed that this would reduce the city’s liability from $2.2 million to $1,021,000. Although the figure is above the $750,000 liability the city was shooting for, Smith said the staff recommended the commissioners accept the plan.
Griffin Mayor Dick Morrow said the current law requires a minimum of $557,000 be budgeted per year for retiree health benefits. Monies must also be put away for future retirees, which is the source of the $2 million plus liability. He said the new arrangement will reduce the city’s liability from over $2 million to $1 million by splitting the cost with the retirees.
Smith later said an actuarial study will be done every two to three years to check in on the costs based on the number of retirees.
“All this is subject to change similar to what we’re changing now,” Smith said.
Morrow said that if the Obama administration sets up a national health care system, this would qualify as such a change.
Director of Human Resources Miles Neville came forward to discuss the possibility of a premium increase. Neville said if such an increase took place, it would be this summer after the new fiscal year begins. He said the city’s contribution to the plan will remain the same even if rates rise - the retiree will pay the difference.
“Every year I’ve been here, there’s been an increase,” Neville said.
He said if usage of the city’s insurance policy is minimal, it is possible there will not be an increase.
The commissioners voted 6-0-1 in the evening to implement the program, with Commissioner Will Evans abstaining because he is a retired city police officer. The new policy will be implemented on June 1.