Letter to the Editor: Ballot Question 2 Proposes To Gut Article V, Utilities

By KEN MILDER
Former County Councilor and BPU member

The most important, long-term decision facing Los Alamos voters is not only choosing candidates but the proposed major changes to our County Charter, our county’s constitution. Ballot Question 2 proposes to gut Article V, Utilities, by repealing that section in its entirety and replacing it with new language. That is, Charter language that has served Los Alamos citizens quite well for over 45 years must be “fixed.” Go figure: Something that ain’t broke needs “fixing!”

Be wary. The so-called “fix” will actually break something that works well. How? Foremost among the proposal’s many flaws is that it inserts several loopholes into governance of our Utilities system. Those loopholes give future County Councils the ability to impose hidden taxes that ultimately increase utility rates. The change also shifts governance from a business-focused board to a politically motivated Council; a shift that violates the industry-standard model for management and oversight of a publicly owned utilities system.

The changes are substantial and arcane. They are so massive and confusing that Article V must be totally repealed  in order for the new language to make any sense.  

The changes are so detrimental and risky that a bi-partisan group of concerned citizens, Citizens to Preserve Sound Utilities (CPSU), have come to together to inform our friends and neighbors of the proposal’s shortcomings and encourage a vote Against Ballot Question 2.

CPSU members include three former County Councilors who also served terms on the Board of Public Utilities, two former Utilities Managers, one of whom also served 10 years on the BPU, and a former Assistant County Attorney and BPU member. This group has extensive, first-hand knowledge and experience regarding Utilities governance from every possible angle: business, legal, political, and, most importantly, risk.

To prevent improper and imprudent use of Utilities for General Fund revenue, I unequivocally encourage citizens to defeat the proposed Charter changes. Vote Against question #2 on the November ballot.

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