GLASGOW – After one amendment failed and another passed, the Glasgow Common Council narrowly approved a stripped-down version of a resolution “to encourage” the Glasgow Electric Plant Board to hire a consultant and consider that consultant's report before committing to a new 20-year contract with its wholesale electric power provider, the Tennessee Valley Authority.
The originally proposed resolution contained language regarding a decision the GEPB board was believed to have made at its last meeting, information two of the board members had shared during an on-air interview, seven issues that make the decision difficult and half a dozen decisions by TVA “that in retrospect may not have been sound.”
The proposed document stated that “it would be improper for this council to interfere in how the independent directors of the GEPB vote,” but it's proper to encourage them to get the best information possible before they enter a 20-year contract with any provider.
“This council will accept and support the decision if based on the recommendations of a competent independent consultant and will help defray the costs of same,” it stated.
Several council members voiced opposition to the resolution for various reasons, while others were insistent that a consultant is needed before the best-informed decision could be made.
The agreement TVA is requesting would require that the GEPB provide 20 years' notice if it wanted to switch wholesale power providers, and some incentives are provided as part of that agreement, including a 3.1 percent credit on bills that would be worth an estimated $50,000 per month or $12 million over the course of the two decades.
One of the concerns voiced by multiple council members was that no dollar amount was provided as to how much the city would cover, and after the first round of spirited discussion, Councilman Terry Bunnell asked whether they could amend the motion to approve the resolution by attaching a specific percentage of the dollar amount, and when advised he could, he proposed that the city would pay 60 percent, because “I think it's that important.”
After further discussion, five voted in favor of that change, and six voted in opposition, while Councilman Patrick Gaunce declined to vote because he said it wasn't the council's place to make such a decision at all.
Part of the opposition to the resolution wasn't so much about whether GEPB should hire a consultant but rather also the negative light in which it cast TVA. Councilman Joe Trigg, for example, said most of the information about TVA was out of context and the reasoning behind why it made the choices it did were not explained. City Attorney Danny Basil told them they could amend the document any way they wanted.
Bunnell proposed a new amendment to delete essentially all the background rationale behind the resolution, leaving only the last two paragraphs, and inserting an amount of 50 percent or $50,000, whichever is less, for the city to cover.
The amended version was left to say, with that amount specified, that it would be in the best interests of the city and its citizens for GEPB “to hire a consultant, partially paid for by the City of Glasgow, and strongly consider the consultant's recommendations before they vote on whether to enter the 20-year contract.”
Only three voted against the second amendment: Gaunce, James Neal and Freddie Norris, so the amendment passed, but then it came time to vote on the resolution as amended. Councilwoman Chasity Lowery said she still thought they were getting ahead of themselves to make this decision before the GEPB board's meeting Tuesday evening.
Councilman Brad Groce said he voted for the amendment because he wanted a specific figure in there in case the resolution was approved, but he would still be voting against the resolution in general because he saw it as interference, and Trigg expressed a similar reasoning.
The final vote was 7-5 in favor of the shortened resolution with the $50,000/50 percent stipulation. Neal, Groce, Trigg, Gaunce and Lowery cast the nay votes.
Mayor Harold Armstrong attended last month's GEPB board of directors meeting to “encourage” them to hire a consultant to take an independent look at the issue, and Chairman Tag Taylor said he believed more information was better for a decision like this and he and his fellow board member Libby Pruitt Short had reached out to at least half a dozen other local power companies to get their take on the contract. Taylor said that in the spirit of having all the information necessary toward making the best-informed decision, they should certainly consider a consultant. They would take the proposals with them to read and mull. He appointed a committee of two to further look at consultant options, with the board members under the apparent impression that it would not fall under the Kentucky Open Meetings Act. The Glasgow Daily Times has received no committee meeting notices.
All other votes were unanimous on agenda items that included:
• Second readings of ordinances amending the existing ordinances relating to animals and correcting the numbers on a series of previous ordinances;
• First reading of an ordinance changing the Glasgow Police Department Standard Operating Procedure, adding sections pertaining to school resource officer memorandums of agreement and duties, providing a “major update” to the policy on use of naloxone and updating the domestic violence policy;
• Two resolutions allowing applicants for grants from the Kentucky Office of Homeland Security for the GPD for body armor and Tasers.