With threats of changes to its role looming, members of Gardner’s electric utility board (EUB) voted to enter into a lease agreement worth almost $60,000. Under the four-year agreement, Gardner Energy would lease two new vehicles to replace existing small aerial lift trucks. Specialty vehicles include things like aerial lift trucks and digger derrick trucks. They range in cost from $90,000 to $195,000.
Although members of the city council agreed one night prior to the EUB meeting that the ordinance that created the appointed board varies with state law, the ongoing controversy over the EUB’s future was not discussed at the EUB meeting on Dec. 4.
Mayor Chris Morrow attended the meeting, but did not address the board. However, the following day, he sent an email to electric utility director Bill Krawczyk and board president Eric Schulz about the truck purchase.
“…at last night’s meeting, I believe the board took action on an item (new item no. 7) they knew put them in violation of state statute,” Morrow wrote. “I’ve included a section below from the city attorney’s memo on the matter.”
The memo suggested that city staff and council approval is required for the payment of expenses and bills per state statute.
Morrow recommended in his email that Gardner Energy staff not execute the lease agreement for new truck leases until city council approves the expenditure.
Council did not repeal ordinance 2296, which created the electric utility, during its meeting on Dec. 3.
“But they were unanimously in agreement that (the city was) in violation of state statute in ways presented to us by our city attorney,” Morrow’s email to the board reads.
In other business, members of the EUB:
• heard updates on the budget, and on projects including a turbine and distribution project.
• discussed the possibility of conducting their meetings from the council dias so the meetings can be videotaped and put online.
• watched as newly-appointed board member Lee Moore was sworn-in.