We’ll say it again. Gardner city needs experienced leadership.
It’s embarrassing and disrespectful to the residents who attended the March 9 work session for the council to admit they raised electric rates, but didn’t bother to notify customers via newsletter, electric bill, website or social media.
They also didn’t allow the residents to address the council until they closed the meeting.
So much for “trust us, we believe in transparency.”
The problem is – Gardner leadership doesn’t have the experience to know what they don’t know, and they’re too arrogant to ask questions, or admit to making mistakes. They just get mad and bully anyone in their way.
This time around, the council has taken aim at citizens who use all-electric services in Gardner. They have more than doubled the electric bills for some customers. Many of the 1,302 all-electric customers live in mobile homes or apartment buildings.
Although the rate did need adjusting, the council could have stepped the all-electric rate up gradually, but they didn’t. They also failed to inform the approximately 1,302 households that they were going to get slammed hard this winter.
Council discussion Monday night centered around referring customers to charity programs, making payment arrangements or providing equal pay opportunities.
Anyway you look at it, twice as much money for a utility bill still has to come from elsewhere in the budget. And water rates are increasing, too.
“It’s the best we can do,” the mayor said.
No, it isn’t the best anyone can do. Gardner can do can better.
As recently as 2012, Gardner’s electric utility was under budget which created a $1 million surplus; it also had plenty of reserve funds and the then-director predicted an eventual reduction in electric rates.
Those were the days.