Scott Wedel: No way to govern
May 7, 2011
The longest standing Oak Creek Town Board member, Chuck Wisecup, says it is acceptable to be a police commissioner and not to have talked to the town's police officer for many months. The rest of the Town Board avoids the issue.
Lawrence Jaconetta failed to conduct himself as should be expected by a Town Board member.
The Town Board passed an ordinance making property owners liable for their tenant's electricity bills without seeking input from property owners and thus was surprised by the strong opposition of property owners including two of the town's most prominent property owners that submitted letters threatening to sue if the ordinance was not repealed.
The town is considering redoing billing for the electricity department without explaining why the old system that typically required a deposit had such a higher rate of billing write-offs than Yampa Valley Electric Association, which typically does not require a deposit. YVEA billed $56 million last year and had billing write-offs of $81,000, which is a 0.14 percent write-off rate. Oak Creek billed about $667,000 and is owed $10,385.26 for accounts with a final bill in 2010 for a loss rate of 1.56 percent. That is a loss rate 1,076 percent higher than YVEA. The town should explain why even after taking deposits that their balances-owed rate is so much higher than YVEA. At the Town Board work session meeting a couple weeks ago, there were attempts to ask why the town's billing loss rate is so high, but the Town Board declined to address that subject.
To get those above numbers from YVEA took a phone call, which was returned that afternoon. To get those numbers from Oak Creek required a four-week process of filing an open records request; being charged and paying for town staff research time; being given a report for 2010 that did not include balances owed; being assured twice by Town Board member Johrene Story that I had received what I requested and promises to show me where balances was in the report that were not kept; and finally upon threat of myself pursuing this as a noncompliance of the Colorado open records law, Oak Creek Treasurer Sandy Jacobs took my request and emailed the requested data later that evening.
That the Town Board acted and passed Ordinance 609 without first gathering this information and understanding the problem before addressing the problem was inept. How accounts with a deposit of $250 were allowed to run up balances $1,318, $481, $824 and $1,692 has never been explained. It makes no sense to believe a Town Hall unable to competently administer the current billing policy would be able to competently administer any new electricity billing policy.
The Town Board with three board members not present considered significantly different proposals for a new water tank, a very important decision with long-term consequences. The question of how much extra to pay now for expected reduce maintenance costs in the future should require a financial analysis based upon opportunity costs, but was made after an impromptu guess of what seemed best.
This is no way for a town to be governed.