Showing posts sorted by relevance for query HLP. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query HLP. Sort by date Show all posts

Monday, August 25, 2014

$238,005.54 HLP GM Severance

Recently the General Manager of Heber Power retired. Thanks to a GRAMA request by a Heber 
resident, ratepayers are now able to read the pertinent "Early Retirement Severance Agreement."   
To entice the GM to leave earlier than his requested Mar 2015 departure, he was able to cash in 
unused vacation (11.5 days or $8,286),  sick leave (57.38 days or $41,339), which appears to be 
normal HLP policy.  

Note that HLP gave 8 sick days per year, for many years until it was 'returned' to 12 days last 
year, for the 36 employees.  There is now nearly $1 Million in UNFUNDED accrued benefits.

That total accrual of $49,623.06 was accumulated in his 7-8 years of employment with HLP.

He was also awarded $150,000 in "severance" pay, $30,000 donation to his retirement fund 
AND $4,780.08 for in-lieu-of health insurance payment.   Provisions were made to allow him to 
"use" up his 551 hrs of "2014 vacation and sick leave allotment to extend his retirement date 
(for retirement pay purposes) until November - thereby increasing his retirement pay by over 3%.
rate amount
Vacation, sick hours 551 $90.06 $49,623.06
Paid Holidays 5 $90.06 $3,602.40
In-lieu of insurance $1,593.36 $4,780.08
Consultant services $0.00
Severance $150,000.00
401K $30,000.00
TOTAL $238,005.54
As there are 5 paid holidays during that extra period before officially 
retiring, he will be paid an additional $3,602.40 for not working on those 
days, while on vacation.
What will Mr. Stewart, the now retired HLP GM, be required to do? Nothing!  

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Open Letter to Pay Recipients

Enough is Enough - Wasatch County residents want to know

An Open letter to recipients of the HL & P pay raise
(1/27 Via Email to: David Phillips, Connie Tatton, John Whiting, Mike Kohler, Benny Mergist, Alan McDonald, Nile Horner, Robert Patterson, Eric Straddeck, Erik Rowland, Jeff Bradshaw)

First, let me offer my apologies for the delivery of my comments at the recent Heber Light and Power Board meeting; some have said I may have sounded "angry."  I felt it was not proper that an explanation was not offered and that no question were answered by those who made that decision.

Be that as it may, I'm sure you are all aware that the decision to award "in-lieu" of pay to the members of the the  has not received overwhelmingly approval by the community.

As a strong believer in openness and transparency, I am therefore offering any of you the opportunity to:
 1. Join the IMPACT program to express anything you have to say on this subject;
 2. Join the IMPACT program answer questions this subject;
 3. Respond via email with your comments; OR
 4. Call me to explain or discuss the issue. 
I have substantial information about the decision, but there are still many question to be answered.

Last, but certainly not least, I would strongly urge that each and everyone of you NOT to be recipients of ANY payments dispensed from HL&P until the situation is resolved, AND better yet, that any and all funds be returned in the name of fairness to those who pay the bills.

Regards,
Bob Wren.

Response, I've had a few,
But then again, too few to mention. . . . 

It did bring this:
Date: Tuesday, November 29, 2011, 4:00 PM
Hi All,
I was finally able to visit with Tony about the decision made at the last Heber Power board meeting.  I apologize for not being there but our Council meeting ended up conflicting with it.  I will try to do better in the future.
That said, I am concerned about the decision made by the board to offer health insurance (or equivalent cash)to themselves.   I can’t think of any reason to justify that amount of money coming to the board.  The $500.00 per month is at the top side of anything justifiable based on the amount of time and effort spent doing that job.  I could even support  reasonable extra compensation to those board members who spend time over and above normal board meetings to help manage the company, but not this. 
With all due respect to the board’s actions, I would request that this item be reconsidered and reversed at our next meeting.  In my opinion, it is this kind of excesses that turn the public against those in political office. 
We represent the people and should be doing all possible to deliver government services at the best price possible.   We, the board of Heber Light and Power, recently imposed a rate increase on our customers.  It was calculated to be the least cost amount needed to deliver an expected rate of return to the company to help maintain good long term financial health.   I was opposed to that increase based on timing and present economic conditions.  I am opposed to this increase in Board compensation, not only because it is excessive, but also because it will use up about 25% of that rate increase, possibly requiring another increase in rates to compensate for it.   It is excessive based on any reasonable compensation for time spent.  Please let us reconsider our actions.

Respectfully, 
Mike Kohler
Wasatch County Council

And this:

Sent: Friday, December 02, 2011 7:38 AM
Fellow Board Members

After some thought on this matter I support Mr. Kohler's opinion . I have ask Mark Anderson to return my portion of the insurance stipend to Heber Light and Power.

Thank you,
Benny Mergist

Further on 2/1/2012:

At the end of 2011, Heber City received a check for $20,249.28 from Heber Light and Power, to cover the insurance benefit appointed to myself and Alan McDonald, who were representing the Heber City Council as HL&P board members for 2011. (I wish to note that Alan was not present for the vote regarding this insurance benefit.) The current Heber City policy divides any and all board payments received from any paying boards in behalf of its council members, between all five council members. Thus when this payment was divided by 5, each Heber City council member’s portion was $4049.86. (I also wish to note the other Heber City council members did not participate in the vote regarding this issue or ask to receive this payment.) We each received a net amount less social security and taxes. I returned to HL&P the gross amount of my portion which was $4049.86.
I wish to clarify I did not return “a” portion, but the entire portion of which I received. To quote me as saying I returned as much of the money as I had available, that I wished it were more, or that this depletes everything my wife and I have in savings was also incorrect.
I sincerely apologize for my error in judgment on this matter and I am earnestly striving to make restitution.  I no longer serve on the HL&P board, but appeal to all current board members to rescind the decision regarding insurance benefits paid to board members.
Sincerely,
Benny Mergist
Heber City Council Member

And This

To Heber City Council and former Members:

We are all aware of the HLP health benefits package and the extra compensation that has been given to the City Council.  I am informing the city council that I am returning the portion of the money that I have received due to this health benefits package back to HLP.  What you decide to do with your portions is up to you.

  I would like to make a statement to the council concerning boards and committees that the city council members have been appointed to.   When a city council member has been asked to fill an appointed position on a board or committee, they represent the whole governing body of the city, and should act in the best interest of the city.  Their actions or in-actions, must reflect the position of the governing body of the city and not their own personal interests.  We do no sever on these committed and boards due to any personal achievement of our own; rather we serve on these positions because the Mayor has asked us to represent the governing body of Heber City.

   With that in mind, I feel the governing body should make a decision concerning the HLP board health benefits package as a body, and voice that opinion through our representatives on the board.  I ask the City Council representatives on the HLP board to reconsider the actions take by some of the HLP board members in November and remove from the amendments of HLP Employee and Exempt Employee Manual the health benefit that the board members receive.  I would like the City Council to resole to a vote on how the city and the governing body should be represented on the board by the council's representatives.

   I vote to rescind this health care benefit that has been extend to the HLP Board members and to remove the amendments allowing it.  I respect each of you and your position concerning the best interests of the council and the city.  But we need to make it clear to the public and to HLP Board what the city council's position is on this issue.  So I would suggest to the council, that we have  Mark Anderson  put this on the February 2nd regular meeting agenda, so the council can take a vote on it.

   What each council members does with the money that they have received is up to each individual, but I recommend that the council and former council member return all monies received from this action. 

Respectfully:

Alan McDonald

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Heber Light Proposed Rate Increase

Update: The rate increase WAS approved at a postponed  August meeting on 2 Sept.  As a result of some data supplied it appears some commercial users may get increases of up to 400%, while others may get a reduction.  All residential users will get a 6% increase.   The rate increase will occur in  the next billing cycle.

A word to the wise, it may be very appropriate to carefully check your bills.  One user recently found his residential account had been billed in error for several YEARS
*************        *******************
Heber Power Board Members and Heber City Council


As this epistle is too detailed for presentation at the Public Hearing, I'm sending it to the decision makers (Board) in the hope that you will take it under consideration in your decision on the rate increase.
My two major concerns are raising residential rates and the possible reduction in larger commercial, that may not be offset by necessary Peak Power purchases. A minor concern is also the lack of time based rates and its affect on peak power.
At last year's Rate Increase hearing, Mr Pender talked about the concept of “Cost of Causation.” means that those who cause the utility to incur its costs should be responsible for payment of such costs.” pg 4, COS Study
The imposition, or continuation, of a service charge further hurts those least able to pay bills – the low residential user. But that IS being addressed somewhat, relatively, with the new proposed rates.Removing it or reducing it, with a per kwhr adjustment, might be a better alternative to an increase.
The Board decision to increase impact fees from 40% to 60% was a step in the right direction, in my opinion. I believe last year 75% was recommended.
That does mean, however, that 40% (rather than 60%) of the 'caused' cost burden must be still be borne by the remaining current ratepayers. While this was a good decision, it appears that this proposed rate increase may further the inequitable burden on the residential ratepayer, rather than those who have benefited from the past lower impact fees.
Last year's rate increase presentation used 'examples' showing a standard 4.5% for all users. A closer look showed that not to be true. Smaller commercial faced a larger relative burden that larger commercial. That appears to have been corrected in this year's proposal. All small commercial seems to be getting a rate REDUCTION. This is probably a positive step, for the existing 1185 small businesses, who may have been beneficiaries of the lower impact fees of the past.
It appears that an original 4.5% residential increase has been increased to 6% for all nearly 10,000 users. This does seem strange to me as one of the avowed reasons for municipal (user owned) utilities is lower rates for the 'owners' (municipalities and their residents and taxpayers). The supposed advantage of lower impact fees was encouragement for

Monday, May 19, 2014

HL&P 4.5% Rate Increase

Heber Light & Power is proposing a RATE INCREASE for all users.    (Well, it may be for all users, except the large ones.)  
PUBLIC HEARING   May 29

Apparently , this increase was approved in the budget by the previous Board (You know the one with the faux PAY increase, which they were required to return.)

While analyzing the proposed rate structure a few questions arise:

Why are rates for residential going up by 4.5%, while commercial seems to be less?

In the rate examples given, residential rates are a constant 4.5%, 'small' commercial increases 4.5%, but that percentage decreases with increases usage above the 3,600 Kwh example.   The 'large' commercial' example at 4.3% increase also appears to decease with increase usage.   In fact, in the given "large" commercial example showed a peak of 250 kW vice the 370 kW used the monthly rate

I'm unsure of the rate increase goals (except for revenue increase) of this complex rate structure are (other than the general "shift demand, green energy supply, economic development"), nor am I certain how, when or if the proposed changes will accomplish those goals.

It appears the examples given might have been chosen to demonstrate an 'equal' % increase, but usage will modify that.  The rate increase appears to benefit increased usage.

(HL & P  Interactive rate computer  This spreadsheet should allow you to create your own suggested rate structure and SEE the results.)

Columns K, L and M of the rate spreadsheet, compiled from the proposed rates, offer a simple two tiered systems which creates a similar proposed rate schedule and a third tier could be added to further reduce the high end users' costs, if needed for 'economic development' and accomplishing your goals.   (Various cells can be modified to determine the results.  As the formulas achieved the same results as the HLP presentation, I assume they are correct.).

It appears the intent is to lower modify the peak DEMAND, but not necessarily the usage.  There could be a HUGE disparity between a 249kW demand and a 251kW (small vs large) bill at marginal rates of $0.0805 vs $0.037 per kWh, thus benefiting a larger peak demand.

It seems like the small households get the most relative dollar hurt - mainly because of the Service charge. 

Rather than raising that service charge by 4.5%, lowering it to, say $5, would help out the 'average' resident by 10 to 20%, -  AND would only decrease HLP revenues by $70K (assuming 10K accounts)

Last comment/question: do hookup, or impact, fees for new connections cover the actually increased cost or is new growth being subsidized by current residents?

One response: "For infrastructure projects beginning in 2012 through 2015 amounting to $6,959,000, only $3,542,000 is eligible for impact fees.  Of this eligible figure only about 41% is being recovered in impact fees This is the same percent impact fee recovery for new businesses, subdivisions etc.  We would never charge %100 because at least 25% of necessary upgrades for these new builds benefits the whole system."
 
If HLP had NOT spent $200 (?) for the new "super" meters ($2,000,000), it may not have needed a rate increase.   Are they really paying for themselves?  If so, how?

My second guess is that there are areas are continuing costs that might be reduced.   Has the money from the loans and credit cards misuse been recovered? 

Reports are circulating that some higher echelon employees receive high six-figure salaries with bonus and 'comfortable' benefit packages.

If HLP had NOT spent $200 each (?) for the new "smart" meters ($2,000,000?), it may not have needed a rate increase.  Have they actually proven their value?  If so, how?

Have the dividends to the cities increased for 2014?   (apparently not = $300K)

Who is actually paying for street lights?   Is the $73,819 'donated' by HLP?  For what lights? What determine who pays the other $20K? (see *below)   Do 'rural' developments get donated light electricity?   If so, why not let the HOA pay?

 *WHEREAS the Heber Light & Power Company (“the Company”) practice is not to
charge municipalities or the county for the energy charges for street lights (“energy charges for
street lights”).
 
 WHEREAS, to implement this practice, the Company records the estimated energy
charges for street lights but annually writes-off these charges.
 
 NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF THE
HEBER LIGHT & POWER COMPANY AS FOLLOWS:
 
 The Company hereby writes-off the 2013 energy charges for street lights in the amount of
$66,963.

 I appreciate slide 29 ("? ? ?") pg 54

In short, my suggestions are reduce expenses, eliminate the service charges, implement a simpler rate structure and ensure that growth is covering its costs.   All these proposals for no extra cost.

PUBLIC HEARING   May 29 6:00 PM,   Heber City Council Room      Click on the link for MORE info.

Monday, June 09, 2014

HLP Rate Increase, Part II

The Public Hearing was held last week, a few questions were answered by HL& P management.  The Fact Sheet presented by two board members is available here, some meeting videos can be seen here

HL & P DID post some salary and benefit info on their website, however it's projected 2014 figures, rather than actual 2013 which for many individuals was much higher.   The figures are also only Gross pay and benefits.  For a clearer presentation of the benefit package see a more complete view here showing how generous the benefit package really is.

In that hearing on the rate increase, the consultant listed some criteria for determination of the rate.   One was to be "fair and equitable," another was "cost causation."

The proposed increase was portrayed as a straight 4.5% increase for all rate payers.  In fact, it would be - for residential customers ONLY.   For small commercial users, that is only true for the example given (3600 Kwh/month) for the "average" small commercial.  Those using LESS power would get a HIGHER percent rate increase, all using MORE get a SMALLER percent increase.  

Similarly, for this "average" LARGE commercial user it may also be true for the given parameters, but that it somewhat complicated by understanding, and determining, their "peak power" demand.

However, it appears that for the eleven large customers involved there, could and probably will, be SAVINGS of perhaps $50,000 per year.   Is it "fair and equitable" for a 4.5% residential increase and $50K decrease for large commercial?

Then, of course, the last rate increase (a service charge, imposed three years ago) imposed a larger relative burden on the LOW usage customers.    That regressive fee is ALSO proposed to be increase, in addition to imposing one one the small commercial user.

Finally, the rate consultant suggested that rates should be used to decrease peak power and to cause use in the off-peak hours.   How will lower rates for MORE usage, decrease the use or switching to lower use time periods.   HL&P spent over a million dollars on new 'smart meters' which apparently have not yet been 'trained' to offer the supposed benefits.    Time of service use charges might effect tim of usage,

The "Fact Sheet" indicated that only 41% of possible impact fees are being charged.  The impact fee is the cost to Heber Power CAUSED by NEW service.   If less than half of that cost, which is directly attributable to new construction, that means the remainder of the cost is being borne by the current rate payers! 

Increasing the impact fees would garner 100's of thousands of revenue, thus minimizing, or eliminating, the need for a rate increase.

I won't even mention the large amounts of money lost in the credit card fraud and investigation and resultant bonuses, nor will I comment on the faux health care pay fiasco again, but I would mention this comment from HLP management in the recent audit:
  1. "We acknowledge our responsibility for the design, implementation, and maintenance of internal control to prevent and detect fraud."
See all the new proposed rates here

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

PAY Raise Rescinded, but Payback Refused

Update 28 Feb:  While the HL&P Board "terminated" their "health" benefit, no decision was made for returning the back (and retroactive) pay.  These amounts are what they were PAID for "health" insurance.    This does NOT include their 'regular' HLP Board pay of ca. $500, other board payments, or their regular pay as elected officials. As HC Councilmen "share" their board payments these amounts could be higher.   The HC Council (excl. the Mayor) have informally agreed NOT to accept the Jan and Feb payments per Email.  Proposals are being considered to modify board payments.

An updated list of the amounts received in this pay raise can be found here.


************** 
At the HLP Board meeting, the first action after a (very) brief discussion was a unanimous vote to TERMINATE (rather than rescind) the November stealth four-fold Pay RAISE. (disguised as "health benefits")

After being queried when the raise was terminated, Mayor Phillips finally said it would be for February and it was a direct deposit to him and he would return THAT payment.

When asked, repeatedly, if they would return the pay already received Phillips, Tatton, Bradshaw, and Patterson all refused to answer. (Kohler had already refused payment)    Phillips said it was a "personal decision" - the 50 or so at the meeting expressed their collective displeasure at that response.

The Board members were also silent in response to an invitation to present an explanation onthe radio -but were preparing a written explanation. (justification?) (thereby avoiding pesky questions)

Councilman Alan McDonald explained to his former the error of their ways - and was basically met with vacant stares.  (Click here for transcript of his remarks)

Click here for a recording of meeting comments.

KUTV reporter Dan Rascon was doing interviews and reported live after the meeting.

"From residents, to a radio talk show host, to a city councilman – they’re all angry and upset over what board members who govern the Heber Light and Power Company did at a meeting last year. . . . Hebery (sic) City Mayor Dave Phillips is the chairman of the board – he says he is going to listen to the outcry but doesn't believe the board did anything wrong."


Here's the SLTrib report on the meeting  

"Heber City • Rushing to quell a firestorm of angry rate payers, the part-time board of the Heber Light & Power Co. voted unanimously Wednesday to rescind a benefit of $1,687 per month.

Nonetheless, board members got an earful from residents who called their actions "unethical," "self-serving" and "arrogant," among other things."

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Questions to HL & P Board



While local electricity users may be heartened by the decision of the HL & P Board of Directors' “Personnel Board” to “recommend termination” of their massive pay increase, many are still awaiting the answer to how, and why, this all came about.
Somehow Mayor Phillips' rationale that “If the public is going to be upset we need to terminate this,” does not seem to be sufficient explanation. This answer sounds more like, 'whoops, we got caught enriching ourselves, so we'd better back off a little.' 
There was no mention of an apology or an admission of an erroneous policy, no mention of returning the money being repaid.    
By the time of the Board meeting Wednesday, some members will have received about $15,000 under the guise of health benefits.
One former Councilman has declared this simply a “bonehead decision,” others conclude that it was a calculated plan of greed.

Here are a few questions that need to be asked - and answered: 
  • Where are/were checks and balances against this type of action? 
  •  By whom was this idea concocted and promoted? 
  • Why was there no proper notification or explanation for this action? 
  •  When will the money be returned? 
  • Why are board members paid for not attending meetings? 
  •  Are there other entities who have, or are, doing similar things? 
  •  If not paid for by increased electric rates or taxes, how was it paid for? 
  • Last, but not least: How do we prevent this type of misfeasance from occurring again?
As Mayor Phillips promised in January, the HLP Board meeting is the proper place for a discussion and an explanation. We will eagerly anticipate that at 4:15 PM today (Wed.) after the petition is submitted.

MANY more comments can be found on the petition by signers.   Here are a few of recent ones, posted in the last two days:
  • "This smacks of the outrageous salaries opted by California municipalities. Check out what happened to them. Remember who we are! And what we can do if provoked."
  • "Too angry to comment."
  • "In my opinion, they should be removed from the board and banned forever from any board, and banned from running for any type of public office. It might help also if their businesses were boycotted. That might help send a very clear message that " ENOUGH IS ENOUGH" 
  • "How disgusting that these leaders feel like they deserve such outrageous compensation. The ones that voted for this do not deserve our votes in the next election. If they can be so blatantly unethical on this, what little things are getting by the public where they are cheating on?" 
  • 'Doesn't seem ethical at all to me. Let the people who pay vote on such changes. Wow, it sounds about like what is going on in our national government! Hope we can stop this now!" 
  • And from an Email in response to this from a Board Member "The personnel committee met yesterday.  No decision was made to make any recommendations to the full board as of yet.  We will be meeting again but not meeting date was set.  No minutes were taken.  There will be a press release to the media in next week’s paper.  I have not seen the press release so I can’t give you any information regarding that.  I am sorry I am such a disappointment to you.  Perhaps you should consider running for office."    ==      "No need to be nasty I only spoke the truth about your responsibilities to your constituents it has nothing to do with whether I run for office, you did run for office and answer to your constituents and ratepayers.   You are showing a great deal of arrogance.  Why was their no minutes of this latest meeting  isn't that something that has to be done.  How can there be a press release that you haven't seen?  Who wrote the press release this just doesn't sound right.  I will pass your response to all the people I know.  You broke the trust and feel justified in being sarcastic to someone who has the right to question you.  When I first called you should have responded with an explanation of why you voted the way you did.  Each time you avoid speaking to the citizens it appears that you can do what you want and just really don't care.   I also asked you to let me know what other boards you serve on and what the compensation is.
Hmm, has anyone seem that press release?
++++++++++++++++++             ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Here are a few more questions:

How are Board members chosen? 

Is it required that elected official must be members?    If so, by what, or whom?

How often do board members missed meetings?

How long is the average meeting? 
 
Who set up the Human Resources committee?         In which meeting?

Members?    Who chose them?

What is the difference between the HR and Personnel committees?

Are there any minutes of "committee" meetings?

How many other subcommittees are under HLP Board?

When was the comprehensive review study initiated?    When completed?

Why wasn't the item placed on the agenda earlier that November?

When was the item placed on the agenda?

When were McDonald and Kohler excused from the meeting?

In your opinion, did the notice and agenda effectively explain the meeting?

Did anyone suggest that a more informative notice might be required?


Did you have any idea this might be controversial?

When was board eligibility for health benefits discussed?

Is any other Wasatch County entity offering in-lieu of payments?

Has this idea of in-lieu of payments been rejected by any  other entity in the county?

Are in-lieu of payments being made for employees? How many are taking that option?

Where was a notice made of this action so the public would know about it?

Why is there no mention of providing health insurance in the Manual changes?

How were the manual change proposals distributed to the board for their consideration?

Who wrote the press release to the Trib?    Who approved it?

Why did that notice refer to an effective date of July for benefits?

If changes were made for new hires (effective July) to SAVE money, why increase board benefits to SPEND money?

Was there specifically a question asked about the legality of this action? when?

Where, when, and how was the decision made to allow insurance for board members written?

How many Board members took advantage of the health Insurance in 2011?  2012?

Where in the 2011 budget was this item - or was it adjusted in Dec to accommodate the pay raise?

How much input did you receive from the public before approving this?

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Mayor Releases HL&P Board Members

Yesterday in a brief letter, Heber Mayor Alan McDonald dismissed two members from the Heber Power Board of Directors.

Why?   Apparently because he COULD!  

Here's the letter dated 21 May 2014 sent to Heber City Council members Heidi Franco and Kelleen Potter

No explanation, no 'thanks' for your service, just you're gone!  The two board members were appointed TO the Board only a few months ago.

After the three new Council members took their elected positions in January.  The meeting of 16 Jan began some of the controversy of HL&P Board appointments: (incumbent members felt the need to remain on the board, Mayor McDonald disagreed)    "Mayor McDonald indicated he spoke with Blaine Stewart who felt new members would adjust fine. Also, the Heber Light and Power Board bylaws indicated that the Mayor didn’t need the consent of the Council in order to assign other Council members to the board. Council Member Rowland asked to seek clarification on that section of the bylaws. Mayor McDonald read from the bylaws. Mark Smedley stated that language would hinge on

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Has HL & P raised Board Pay to Cover Fake Insurance

Heber City, Wasatch County:    On July 16, the Utah Attorney General's Civic Review Committee issued an opinion and directive that the fake retroactive Board pay taken by the directors must be returned or face possible "formal enforcement actions."



Today, 652 days after approving this action, a year and half after terminating it and a month and a half since the AG letter, it still has not been effectively determine whether compliance in returning the tens of thousands of dollars has been completed.  In fact, other than a response letter from HL&P declaring the money WILL be returned, it can not even be determined if any action has been taken to accomplish this.

However, in the July warrant list (pg 6 payments) for HL&P this item is found:


This INDICATES is that HLP paid Heber City  $950.64 for the  two councilmen on the Board ($475.32/month/man) for "JULY BOARD STIPEND" to share with all councilmen per their internal city agreement.    HL&P then paid an additional  $1,901.28 for  "BOARD STIPEND JULY & EXTR"   as July Bonus pay (perhaps for all those extra meetings?)

It may be coincidental that these "extra" payments were listed as paid two weeks AFTER the AG letter.  As the warrants do not delineate individual payments to the other board members, it can only be assumed that similar TRIPLE payments were made to the entire Board.

At this time it is unknown if similar payments have been made in the past or are planned for the future.  If repayments of fake pay of, say, $10,000 were required, an extra $1,000 per month were certainly soften the blow.

In April, a smaller bonus was also given (only double pay)
601000 SALARIES ADMINISTRATIVE
601000 480 HEBER CITY CORPORATION BOARD STIPEND APR 13 EXTR 04/13 04/01/2013 950.64
601000 480 HEBER CITY CORPORATION BOARD STIPEND APR 13 04/13A 04/25/2013 950.64
Total 601000 SALARIES ADMINISTRATIVE: 1,901.28

Who knows how many more payments have been (will be) made. 

(for more history on this issue click on "H L & P" in the column on the left or here for a slightly different list.)

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Open Letter to HLP Faux Pay Recipients


Dear Mayor Philips (and Council),

I apologize that I forgot our anniversary on February 22. It has now been over a year since you personally promised me, and other Heber Valley residents, in a video taped HL & P meeting to refund your February in-lieu-of faux “health care” benefits from Heber Light and Power as a pittance of unacknowledged remorse. (primarily for getting caught)

It was recently discovered that, in addition to refusing to return the ratepayers money you received for a few months in 2011 and 12 AND retroactively for six months, you also did not fulfill your vow to return the February $1687 “insurance” payment. Instead you merely did not accept your regular monthly pay of $596, thereby pocketing an extra $1091 for you monthly 90 minute meetings, and 'direction'.

At this point, I would strongly suggest one of three options:
  1. With your next Mayor's Corner, offer an apology with a copy of the return check for the $12,900 in faux pay. ('If I knew people would be so upset, we wouldn't have done.' as you said on KUTV, is not an apology.)
  2. Donate $17,900 to the Half million dollar Veterans Memorial fund as a return of funds and an appropriate penalty - that might give you a tax deduction.  
  3. Join us on the Impact program to offer an apology and explanation.  If you bring a check with you, we would be happy to return the money to Heber Light for you.
I look forward to your positive response. 

For Mayor Tatton, a check for $11,600 and an apology would also be appropriate. or a donation of $16,600 to the Memorial Hill Restoration fund.  It was good to see you did forgo four months of regular pay to offset your Feb 2012 faux pay, better fulfilling Mayor Philips' vow.  You, too, are cordially invited to join us on the radio, you can even come at the same time as your cohort, if you like.

PS to the City Council(s): As two of the members of the current Council have return these questionable funds, two did not receive and one, Robert Patterson, has not, I call on you to collectively pass a resolution of censure for these actions and call for an immediate return of the ill-gotten gains.   Former Councilman Nile Horner's lack of repayment should not be forgotten.

Your fellow Heber citizens may be surprised to learn you have not already taken action to do so. As this is an election year, I would suggest not taking voter apathy as acquiescence or approval.

If a petition requesting such a censure request is needed, that might be arranged. http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/heberlight/

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

SAO Report on HLP Board Health Benefits


The Utah State Auditor has reported on the citizens' complaint about the retroactive health benefits.  (highlights added)

December 17, 2012

Board of Directors
Heber Light & Power Co.
31 South 100 West
Heber City, Utah 84032

Dear Board of Directors:

We appreciate the response from Mr. Joseph Dunbeck to our inquiry regarding the allegations at Heber Light & Power. Specifically, it is alleged that Board members: a) planned, prepared, instituted, and accepted compensation for themselves in lieu of a health insurance benefit, and b) received stipends for attendance of meetings, both in state and out of state.

We have determined the following:
  1. Heber Light & Power is subject to the laws regulating its government members.
The Attorney General’s Office considered in its Informal Opinion No. 87-31 what laws apply to an Interlocal Cooperation Act entity, specifically, whether the requirements of the Uniform Fiscal Procedures Act for Utah Cities applied to the Tri-City Golf Course Committee, an Entity created by agreement among American Fork City, Pleasant Grove City, and Lehi City.

The Attorney General’s Informal Opinion considered first the Utah Supreme Court case, CP National Corporation v. Pubic Service Commission, 638 P.2d 519 (1981), which addressed not the “negative” application of the laws, i.e., what laws apply to regulate an interlocal entity, but the “positive” application, i.e., what powers an interlocal entity has. The Court held that “the intent of the act [Interlocal Cooperation Act] appears to be to allow municipalities collectively to exercise powers which they already possess individually.” Id. at 521.

Based on the above court case, the Attorney General’s Informal Opinion indicated that the Interlocal Cooperation Act similarly applies to the “negative” or regulatory laws to which an interlocal entity is subject, stating that “[i]t is clear…that an entity created under the Inter-local Co-Operation Act cannot exercise powers in excess of those possessed by its creators….[C]ities may not grant powers to an interlocal agency which they do not possess themselves individually. It necessarily follows that cities have no power or authority to act in contravention to the requirements of the Fiscal Procedures Act and they cannot endow their interlocal progeny with such power or authority.” Opinion at p. 2.

Given this authority, the State Auditor’s Office has always held that interlocal agreements should be subject to the same regulatory environment as the creating entities. However, it is one thing to say laws applying to a municipality shall also apply to the interlocal entity, and another to actually apply them. In attempting to apply municipal statutes related to employee benefits, including compensation, we encounter some legal quandaries, addressed below.
  1. We cannot answer the question whether the compensation in lieu of health benefits violates the Municipal Code, and suggest seeking a legal opinion from the appropriate authority.
In regards to whether a municipal officer, regulated by the provisions of Utah Code 10-3-818 with regard to salary, can receive any compensation from the interlocal entity, or whether that result in an inappropriate increase in salary under 10-3-818, or an inappropriate economic privilege under Utah Code 10-3-1304, note the following:

Utah Code 10-3-818 provides specifically:

(1) The elective and statutory officers of municipalities shall receive such compensation for their services as the governing body may fix by ordinance adopting compensation or compensation schedules enacted after public hearing.

(2) Upon its own motion the governing body may review or consider the compensation of any officer or officers of the municipality…for the purpose of determining whether or not it should be adopted, changed, or amended. In the event that the governing body decides that the compensation or compensation schedules should be adopted, changed, or amended, it shall set a time and place for a public hearing at which all interested persons shall be given an opportunity to be heard.

And, the Municipal Officers’ and Employees’ Ethics Act (Utah Code 10-3-1304) provides that:

(2) It is an offense for an elected or appointed officer…to:
….
(b) Use or attempt to use the officer’s or employee’s official position to:
(i) further substantially the officer’s or employee’s personal economic interest; or
(ii) secure special privileges for the officer or employee or for others….

In conjunction with these two sections are the instructions provided in the Interlocal Cooperation Act (Utah Code 11-13-222) that:

(1) Each officer and employee performing services for two or more public agencies under an agreement under this chapter shall be considered to be:

(a) an officer or employee of the public agency employing the officer or employee’s services even though the officer or employee performs those functions outside of the territorial limits of any one of the contracting public agencies;
….
(3) All of the privileges, immunities from liability, exemptions from laws, ordinances, and rules, pensions and relief, disability, workers compensation, and other benefits that apply to an officer, agent, or employee of a public agency apply to the same degree and extent when the officer, agent, or employee performs functions or duties under the agreement outside the territorial limits of that public agency.

Utah Code 11-13-222 of the Interlocal Cooperation Act seems to support the Attorney General’s Informal Opinion specifically with reference to matters like compensation of officers and employees, underscoring the fact that the employing municipality’s regulations are controlling.

The question of interpretation remains. We know, of course, that the officers already receive compensation, and the question being asked is simply whether the additional compensation is appropriate. That is a legal question that we do not have the authority to answer.
  1. At the very least, a hearing should have been held to allow public input as required by the Municipal Code.
If it is determined that a municipal officer may receive compensation as an officer of an interlocal entity, it seems clear to us that the provisions of Utah Code 10-3-818 requiring a municipality to hold a public hearing would apply to the interlocal entity. Based on Mr. Dunbeck’s response, it appears that a public hearing was not held regarding compensation of board members until two months after the board approved the budget which included the increased compensation.

In conclusion, we believe that both the Attorney General’s Informal Opinion and Utah Code 11-13-222 make Utah Code 10-3-818 and 10-3-1404 applicable to Heber Light & Power. However, we recommend that you contact the Attorney General’s Office and/or seek clarification of the laws through legislation.

We can say that to the extent it is determined appropriate for municipal officers/board members to receive compensation for their services to Heber Light & Power, a public hearing should have been held to vet the decision by the board to participate in the entity’s health insurance plan. Because it was not, the policy should be voided until the appropriate procedures have been followed.

We appreciate the courtesy and assistance extended to us by the personnel of Heber Light & Power during the course of the investigation. If you have any questions, please contact Ryan Roberts, Audit Supervisor, at (801) 538-1721.

Sincerely,

Auston G. Johnson, CPA
Utah State Auditor

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Who is PAYING for the RAISE?

Wasatch County residents want to know!

It is now over two months since the decision was made for a fourfold pay increase by a few of our elected officials,and nary an explanation, justification or rationalization has been offered.  Adequate opportunities have been available when asked at Council meetings, or after a bevy a comments at the HL&P Board meeting, or in responses to Email queries on the subject.

Perhaps those recipients of this bountiful, self ordained, Christmas present compliments of those paying for electricity think that the public will grow weary and they will be able to keep their ill-gotten gains. 

To put this Pay Raise in perspective, the $10,000 that each of the board members received in December simply for RETROACTIVE benefits (that could not even have been used), is approximately equally to the total of all of the $12 service fees paid by all electricity users for several months.

Consider this,  the amount the Heber City Mayor and  HL&P Board Chair Phillips will be paid for ONE board meeting ($2,300) will be more than ALL of the payments that my business pays for electricity for twelve months.  Those payment also would NOT cover the amount he will receive for the meeting he did NOT attend in January to hear the public!

 What about that frugal widow lady paying $48 per month (including the $12 service fee), ALL of her electric bill payments, for nearly three years,  could just be forwarded directly to Midway Mayor Tatton to cover the cost of ONE month of her in-lieu-of health payments ($1689). 

Heber City council members currently share their board payments.   Three Council members, (Horner, Mergist and McDonald) are repaying their portion of the retroactive bonus of $4,000 for December, for a total of $12,000.   That's a bit more than Town President Whiting received.
Councilman Patterson has reportedly said the council "earned" it and he will not be returning his shared payment.  Former Councilman Straddeck  has given no indication of his decision;  an email query received no response.

Then, of course, we have to raise the exorbitant cost of this pay raise by another 7.65% to pay for the employer portion of FICA - unless this is be given as a no-taxable fringe benefit.

Whatever the cost it will have to come from one of two places - the taxpayers' right hand pocket or the HLP rate payers' left hand pocket.  

Will there be an explanation forthcoming?   Doubtful.   Will that pay raise decision be rescinded? Possibly.   Will the  money already paid be returned?  Only if public pressure is continually applied.    

The "rescind and return" Petition is still up at  http://sn.im/heberlight  or linked at Wasatchlive.com More detailed information can be found at www.wasatch.blogspot.com.

The petition will formally be presented at the next HL & P meeting Wed, Feb 22, 4:15 PM (if they allow it on the agenda this time).