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Troy considers electrical increase

| March 29, 2005 11:00 PM

BY ROGER MORRIS Western News Publisher

The City of Troy is being forced into a 5 percent electrical rate increase because of rising transmission costs passed along by the Bonneville Power Administration.

Even though the city has long-term contract freezing the price it pays BPA for electricity until 2011, the separate cost of transmitting the power has risen annually.

The transmission rate the city pays the BPA has risen twice before with the city electric company absorbing the expense with reserve funds, electric company director Clint Taylor told the city council March 23. The city can't afford to absorb another increase, he said.

"Let's start gradually increasing our rates to cover our expenses so by 2011 when the contract ends we're not hitting city residents with a bigger rate increase," Taylor proposed to the council.

"The increase is less than $4 a month per residence," he said.

The city last passed along an electrical rate increase to city residents in 1997.

"What we want to do with the increase is offset the transmission increases, rebuild our reserves and cover some related expenses," Taylor said.

Even with the proposed increase, Troy's residential electrical rates are just over 5 cents per kilowatt, below average for small towns in the Northwest.

"Our contract keeps our power rates down low," Mayor John Brown said. "I don't see how these little towns make it."

The City of Troy is the only municipality in Montana to own it's own power company.

Taylor said the proposed increase will bring in $47,000 in additional revenues a year.

"Half of what we're asking for is already gone," Taylor said. "When transmission rates in 2007 come in, we'll look at it again."

The transmission rate increase for 2005 will cost the city $9,500 a year more. The previous transmission increases raised city costs by $9,900 a year.

Before the city can raise electrical rates, it has to hold a public hearing, which is being scheduled for mid to late April.

In other business, the council gave permission for organizers of the Fourth of July celebration to use Roosevelt Park. Also, the council agreed to clean up and level the ground at the intersection of the walking path and the paved path that runs between the baseball fields and the soccer field.

Also, Brown said through another "generous donation" the city is placing a new restroom at the football field behind Morrison Elementary School and adding 30 historic-type lights to the walking path in Roosevelt Park. The donation also purchased new Christmas donations for the city light poles.

And, the city is talking with Fish, Wildlife and Parks to construct a 40-foot by 60-foot exhibition building donated by the state agency. It will house wildlife and historical displays. The city is looking at putting the building near the fishing pond at Roosevelt Park.

The council heard a report that the city was now looking at a small strip of state land near the state shop for the proposed city well needed as part of the city's water project.

The council approved payment of an invoice for $13,985.23 for water project drawings completed by Thomas Dean & Hoskins, Kalispell engineers for the water project.