weather icon Cloudy

City needs a commission with utility

Boulder City has utility problems. Not in one arena, but all over. This is no secret.

That’s why City Councilman Warren Harhay held a town hall meeting on the subject last week. I’m not going to hash over the details of the problems, because they have been widely discussed already. Instead I would like to investigate what, going forward, we can do to avoid these mistakes and problems in the future. Hint: It’s all about process.

When I was a very young man starting his graduate work in public administration at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, I was all about issues.

So I was astounded to be taught early on that haranguing public officials is not the way to effect change: It’s all about policy process, the political and administrative processes by which we turn ideas into reality.

Boulder City’s processes are deficient. To cure the deficiencies, we must enhance the process.

With this in mind, I propose the creation of the Boulder City Utilities Commission.

The rights and responsibilities of this commission would be comparable to those of the Planning Commission, though the substance would be different. The City Council should seek and appoint the seven best minds available to us in Boulder City and let them consider all utilities questions before they go before the council for a final determination.

This think tank of sorts would be a win-win for the entire community. It could provide a broad interface to the general public, but just as importantly, it would provide the city leaders — the staff as well as the council — with specific advice and recommendations after full deliberations open to the public. When there are questions about billing, they could be addressed in public workshops.

What are the immediate issues?

■ Use of the financial fund

■ Rate changes

■ Billing questions

■ Infrastructure maintenance

■ Infrastructure build-out

■ Net metering for residents using solar or wind power

■ Electricity provider choice

It’s important to emphasize that this would not be an outside advocacy group shaking the City Council’s cage. The Utilities Commission would necessarily be an inside group dedicated to helping all, working with city management as well as the council. It would be a shot in the arm, not a slap in the face.

When I first examined the process of utilities decision-making in Boulder City, I put myself in the shoes of the council members. I see five hard-working individuals doing the best they can, by their own standards, to serve the community. You don’t have to agree with all their decisions to acknowledge the demands made on them.

They have night-and-day calls from constituents as well as outside parties. They are flooded with data about even the smallest decisions, which we can see from meeting packets of 200-plus pages for every meeting. Utilities data are among the most technical and most difficult to absorb, so if some of that falls by the wayside, it should be no surprise.

Again, this is a recognition, not a criticism. Our council is part-time by design, and some members hold full-time jobs as well. The city staff is professional but minimal due to budget constraints.

So I say, let’s give them a boost with our very own Utilities Commission. It would not have rate-setting authority like a state commission, but I predict its influence would be profound in very short order.

Dale Napier is a business consultant specializing in information systems and financial accounting, with experience in electric utility billing systems.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Partnerships crucial to LMNRA

In September 2023, Lake Mead National Recreation Area launched the More to Mead initiative. The project aims to deepen relationships with surrounding communities and tribes.

Sometimes it’s the little things

In my office I have a small shelf near my desk where I have a few knick-knacks, a couple of coffee mugs, two funny journalism-related signs and some tea. Last week, I added something that has come to mean a lot to me, not so much for what it is but what it represents.

Hi, my name is Bill…

Having the chance to do a little column once a month is one of the most fun parts about this job. It’s something I look forward to.

Local veterans look north for assistance

During the past several years at least three separate individuals have told me that they would like to finance a building for veterans, a place where all vets could go to just hang out, have meetings, converse and feel at home.

Our road map to success needs your input

Setting and achieving goals is vital to many success stories. Whether it was NFL coaches Andy Reid and Kyle Shanahan starting their seasons wanting to go to the Super Bowl, a mailroom employee working their way up to the CEO of a company, or the desire to make a community better, it helps to have a road map to measure progress. That is where a strategic plan is valuable. A strategic plan can also translate as the community’s road map.

What is Valentine’s Day if not a day of love?

It was likely first celebrated in the eighth century on February 14. How have our relationships as well as love changed since the eighth century? We no longer have the support of a familial culture. It is now more secular.

All the World’s a Stage

Last month, I was privileged to share the State of the City Address with more than 170 people in person and many others watching the live stream. I came up with the idea to do a center stage because the circle brought the pieces all together.

Keep the fun in funny Valentine

If home is where the heart is, and the heart is the symbol of love, what better place to celebrate Valentine’s Day than home sweet home?