Council Approves Formation of Five-Person Committee to Review Utilities Department/Charter Issue

Members of the Los Alamos County Council voted 6-1 to appoint a five-person committee to delve deeper into the issues of liability, accountability and responsibility in the relationship between the County and the Department of Public Utilities and its Board. From left, Councilor Fran Berting, Councilor Mike Wismer – not seated, Council Vice Chair Jeff Rodgers, Council Chair Sharon Stover, Councilor Vincent Chiravalle, Councilor David Izraelevitz and Councilor Rick Reiss – who voted against appointing the committee during Tuesday’s Council meeting. On the table during most of the discussion period for this issue was the idea of sending the question of a Charter amendment to a vote of the people to determine whether Council should be given authority to remove DPU managers and / or Utilities Board members at will. The Charter Review Committee had reviewed this issue and found that the County had the responsibility for – but no authority over – the actions of the DPU and recommended that the Charter be amended. Former Councilor Lawry Mann spoke during public comment saying the current structure worked well in that the Council already exercises appropriate control over the DPU through funding approval each year during the budget process. Photo by Carol A. Clark/

From left, in Council Chambers Tuesday evening, Department of Public Utilities Board Member Glen Woodwell, County contract attorney Chay Rennick and Charter Review Committee Chair John Hopkins discuss their positions regarding proposed Charter changes to the DPU and its board. Photo by Carol A. Clark/

Los Alamos County Attorney Rebecca W. Ehler explains the County’s legal exposure under the County Charter as written, should the Department of Public Utilities or its board behave illegally. From left, Councilor David Izraelevitz, Councilor Rick Reiss, Ehler, County Administrator Harry Burgess and Deputy Clerk Naomi Maestas. Photo by Carol A. Clark/

County Council Vice Chair Geoff Rodgers clarifies with County Attorney Rebecca W. Ehler details of the current County Charter as it pertains to the Department of Public Utilities. Photo by Carol A. Clark/

County Councilor Vincent Chiravalle, left, asks questions about the Charter to County Attorney Rebecca W. Ehler during Tuesday’s Council meeting as Councilor David Izraelevitz listens. Photo by Carol A. Clark/



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