Council Directs County Attorney to Draft Two DPU Related Ordinances

Los Alamos County Administrator Harry Burgess briefs Council Tuesday night on the process to-date, regarding a proposed Charter change to Article V – Utilities, which would provide Council with authority to remove rogue board members or managers. Photo by Carol A. Clark/ladailypost.com

Staff Report

In a nutshell, the Los Alamos County Charter Review Committee examined the structure of the Department of Public Utilities and determined that it would behoove Council to make changes to Article V.

CRC Chair John Hopkins, Subcommittee Chair Harry Ettinger and County Contract Attorney Chay Rennick advised Council Tuesday night that it holds all responsibility and liability for any wrongdoing by a utilities manager or board member, but that Article V as written leaves Council without authority to remove the culprit.

Following lengthy discussion of the CRC recommendations and objections from DPU Utilities Manager John Arrowsmith and DPU Board Chair Glenn Westwell, Council directed County Attorney Becky Ahlers to draft two possible ordinances as follows for future Council review:

Motion:

Councilor Mike Wismer moved, second by Councilor Fran Berting that Council direct the County Attorney to draft ordinances for introduction that would provide for a proposed County Charter change to Article V – Utilities, which incorporates the proposed changes with the understanding that such proposed charter changing ordinances, if adopted, will require further approval by Los Alamos County voters at an election in accordance with the County Charter. I further move that council direct the staff to separate the ballot questions making the proposal of 501.3 – Removal of Board Members, a separate question. Berting offered a friendly amendment: also separate a ballot question on Acquisitions.

Substitute Motion:

Councilor David Izraelevitz moved a substitute motion, second by Councilor Mike Wismer that Council direct the County Attorney to draft ordinances for introduction that would provide for proposed County Charter changes to Article V – Utilities which incorporate the proposed changes, with the understanding that such proposed Charter Changing ordinances, if adopted, will require further approval by Los Alamos County voters at an election in accordance with the County Charter.

After further discussion, Council Chair Sharon Stover offered the friendly amendment to have the County Attorney draft two sets of ordinances, one with the CRC proposed changes as one question and a different option separating the questions as offered in the first motion. The friendly amendment was accepted.

Motion passed 5-2, with Councilor Geoff Rodgers and Councilor Vincent Chiravalle voting no.

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