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Council News Release

10/2/2009  2:10:00 PM
Michael Jerrett, Harrells Office, 206-684-8804 Dana Robinson Slote, (206) 615-0061

Councilmember Bruce Harrell

Councilmember Harrell addresses Mayors proposed budget for City Light
Proposal includes a rate Increase and increase in spending for Operations and Maintenance (O&M) and Capital Improvements Program (CIP)

SEATTLE On Oct. 2, 2009, the City Council will review a budget summary proposed by Mayor Greg Nickels and presented by Superintendent Jorge Carrasco. The City Council received the budget information on Sept. 28, 2009.

Councilmember Bruce Harrell, Chair of the Energy and Technology Committee has expressed his disappointment in the Mayors proposal. Throughout all city departments, we have asked department heads to reduce their costs and increase efficiencies, said Councilmember Bruce Harrell. We have asked employees to assist in this process including personal sacrifices such as work furloughs. Throughout the year, we have delivered several policy directives to City Light with the expectation that they would conduct business in the same way.

Harrell added that on April 1, 2009, the Utility indicated they had reduced capital expenditures by $43 million and O&M expenses by $21 million. These expenses were reduced with the goal of not jeopardizing the safety and reliability of the existing system.

I am disappointed that the utility has proposed an overall 3.5 percent increase relative to the adopted 2009 budget and a one percent increase in the previously endorsed 2010 budget. This includes increases in their O&M costs and CIP spending. Changes will be made, confirmed Harrell.

City Lights 2009 Adopted Budget was $1,055,529,000. According to the 2009 Adopted Budget, City Light had 1,882 full-time employees. For 2010, the Mayor has proposed a budget of $1,092,123,000 and an employee base of 1,828. The projected revenue for this budget includes $585,238,000 in retail revenue, $154,431,000 in wholesale revenue, and $104,324,000 from other revenue sources. It also includes a construction fund of $248,130,000.

The Mayor has also proposed a rate increase of 8.8 percent, because of the declining wholesale revenue it experienced in 2009 -- which is largely caused by the declining price of natural gas.

The Councils job is to protect the ratepayers and the citizens from high and unreasonable rates; to ensure that our power system is safe and reliable; and to make sure our operations are environmentally sustainable, added Harrell. These values are not exclusive and do not mean that excelling in all three areas automatically equates to increased rates. Moreover, I will insist that all of the information the Utility relies upon to justify these numbers are open and transparent.

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