Nine power poles were lost in the November 17th snowstorm that brought drifts and power outages to southeast Colorado. Lamar Light Plant Superintendent, Houssin Hourieh, told the board that strong winds out of the north affected the east-west run of power lines with accumulated icing. “It caused some of the protection devices to operate and in some cases, our power poles and conductors failed,” he stated. He said work crews were out in the storm for a number of hours restoring power to customers.
The utility board voted to approve the 2016 budget for the light plant during their November 24th meeting, in advance of the December 1st deadline as mandated by the city charter. Hourieh presented the preliminary budget to the Lamar City Council in October. As part of their annual housekeeping process, the board approved the write off of delinquent accounts for the year, just a few dollars shy of the $50,000 allowed in the budget.
The non-collectible accounts for 2014 were $49,997.21 or 0.37% of revenues for the year. Light Plant accountant, Lisa Denman and Linda Williams, Lamar City Clerk, explained that these accounts are presented to a collection agency which attempts to retrieve the funds on a fifty-fifty split with the city. “If we can get a payment within 90 days, we get the full amount,” Denman explained. Williams said the city started a new policy about six months ago to curtail some customers who try to ‘work’ the system when their power is shut off due to lack of payment. “We’re asking landlords to list names of people renting a house,” she said. This way the city can help determine if a different family member is applying as a customer for utilities once they’ve been shut off under a prior name. The board noted that another $30,000 was also written off in delinquent accounts for trash collections and water service. Over the past decade, the city and light plant lose close to a half a million dollars in unpaid debts.
The monthly financial report for October showed total operating revenue for the month as $1,218,324 with operating costs at $783,387 for a gross profit of $434,937. When the non-operating revenues and expenses are considered, there is a monthly net income of $259,120. Operating revenues for the year are $11,739,135. When the non-operating revenues and expense are considered there is a net profit of $767,936 year to date. These figures reflect a 2% gain in revenues for retail sales, comparing October 2015 to 2014. The final utility board meeting of the year is set for December 15.
By Russ Baldwin
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