Clark Public Utilities Approves Budget
by Elliot Njus
Clark Public Utilities passed its 2011 budgets without raising electric or water rates, though an expected hike from the Bonneville Power Administration -- which supplies much of the utility's power -- could bring an increase next year.
The public utility district's three-member board approved a 2011 budget Tuesday with little deliberation after a series of public hearings and budget discussions.
Commission President Nancy Barnes said keeping electric rates level was possible because of a combination of slow development, which means there's less infrastructure to build, and cuts in staff and spending earlier this year.
"This does not come easily," Barnes said. "It's a balancing act, and it's really fairly complicated."
A power rate hike is likely to come in October, however, when the Bonneville Power Administration is expected to raise its rates. Clark Public Utilities buys about half of its power from the administration.
Rather than raise water rates, the board decided to use borrowed money to fund all its water service construction projects, avoiding a rate increase this year. Typically utility uses only 60 percent borrowed funds.
The one-year departure would allow the utility to keep rates low in sluggish economy.
The utility last raised its rates in September to cover a $5.7 million shortfall for the year.
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