The City Council needs the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to advise the Council on the operations, management, and function of the Department. These include such substantial issues as electric deregulation; state and federal regulatory policy; rate structures and schedules; service delivery activities; operating budgets; service territory adjustments; capital improvements; telecommunication initiatives; management, operation, and procedural policies; and energy conservation programs.
Authority of the City Council
The Public Utilities Commission cannot take actions that are not expressly provided for by the Charter or the City Council within the legal framework of the Charter. To do so would be contrary to the Charter and illegal.
The PUC should make investment decisions of PUC funds. The investment of such should be only at depositories previously-authorized by the Council and in accordance with the Council's investment policies. The Council shall have the authority to modify investment decisions made by the PUC. The PUC through the City Administrator, Financial Services Officer, and Assistant Clerk-Treasurer, should keep the Council informed of PUC investment decisions.
The PUC Superintendent and Financial Services Officer should develop, on an annual basis, the proposed operating budget for the department to be presented to the City Administrator and Council Budget Committee. It should be approved by the City Council as part of the comprehensive budget adoption process. The PUC should review payment of bills to insure compliance with expenditures in accordance with the adopted budget but final approval should be by the City Council. Expenses for maintenance and purchases of minor equipment shall be considered as part of the operating budget. The Charter requires all checks approved for payment to be signed/stamped by the Mayor and City Administrator.
The PUC Superintendent should develop a capital budget plan annually to be presented to the PUC and subsequently to the City Council. The PUC shall be authorized to expend funds for capital improvements that are identified in the capital budget. Any items over $25,000 must be bid under the Uniform Municipal Contract Law. Capital budget items between $10,000 and $25,000 must be secured by a minimum of two quotes. This includes all vehicles and major equipment. Items under $25,000 may be purchased by the PUC without Council approval. Minor equipment and tools should be purchased as authorized by the Superintendent.
The Charter reserves the hiring of all personnel to the City Council. The PUC shall recommend to the Council the number of staff positions in the Department. Whenever a staff vacancy exists, the PUC Superintendent and City Administrator shall recommend to the PUC the filling of the vacancy in accordance with standard policies in existence for advertising, recruitment, and selection. The Superintendent and City Administrator, shall make a recommendation to the PUC which shall subsequently recommend the hiring of a specific candidate to the City Council. Pursuant to the Charter, the Council shall make the final hiring decision. The Charter and Code reserves the right to set salaries to the City Council.
The PUC should review, investigate, negotiate, interpret and thoroughly understand purchase power contracts; and make a recommendation to the City Council for final action.
The PUC should review, investigate, study, develop, and thoroughly understand rates and rate-related issues and recommend a rate structure, or any changes to the existing rate structure, to be adopted by the City Council.
The PUC should have the right and ability to identify issues requiring a contract; shall have the right and ability to review, investigate, study, develop, negotiate, and thoroughly understand the terms and conditions of contracts; and shall recommend approval of such contracts for services to the City Council. The Charter reserves the final contract awards to the City Council.
The PUC should develop a policy to recommend to the City Council for handling all delinquent accounts; whether they should be sent to collection or written-off.
The PUC should evaluate the need to hire consultants for specific purposes. To that end, the Commission should review, investigate, study, develop, and thoroughly understand the purpose of any consultant's study, proposal, scope-of-work, and the content of the consultant's final report. The Commission should use such reports to further recommend policies to the Council. The final execution of consultant contracts must be with the City Council as prescribed in the Charter.