The Herald Bulletin

Afternoon Update


February 15, 2013

Viewpoint: Mayor Smith robbing utilities to pay city salaries

Shame on Mayor Kevin Smith for sneaking a 7.8 percent increase in our electric rate only days before Christmas. The poor citizens of Anderson again are being fleeced by this career politician and his cronies.

It is not like Kevin has not given us this gift before. He performed this exact same Scrooge move in 2007, increasing the electric rate 10.4 percent. Again, right before Christmas.

Surprisingly, most residents are unaware that the mayor of Anderson is directly responsible for the operation of city utilities. The utilities are not-for-profit entities owned by the citizens of Anderson. If the mayor does a excellent job, infrastructure is maintained, quality service is provided, and a surplus accrues in the operating fund. If the surplus grows large enough, the (IURC) Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission will require the mayor to lower rates.

The last two electric rate studies, disclosed during Smith administrations, reveal we have fallen far below the state required operating fund level of $1.3 million. The 2007 rate study showed less than $2,000 remained in the operating fund.

Kevin should be embarrassed that his business performance was not much better in 2012, with little more than $3,000 remaining. If our utility money had not been irresponsibly squandered, we would now be cashing in our ownership dividend, in the form of lower rates. Instead, we are being forced to pay more.

The mayor claims that industrial utility infrastructure has created jobs and increased utility revenue. If these claims were true, our utility rates should have at least stabilized.

Infrastructure welfare to corporations is not the worst reason for rate increases. The most appalling reason for the increase is that utility money is illegally being used to pay the salary and benefits for the mayor, other elected city officials and Smith’s overpaid political appointees.

The mayor has been playing politics, illegally feeding his political machine, with our utility money. Political cronies in Anderson are paid as much as 40 percent more than the same politically appointed positions in neighboring municipalities. Over 60 city employees are being illegally paid with utility money, most of which are either elected officials or Smith appointees.

Misappropriation of utility money for political gain is illegal. The State Board of Accounts has stated that this increasing impropriety should immediately end. It is reprehensible that there is no effort to prosecute for this theft. Smith has falsely promised that he will slowly discontinue the illegal spending of our utility money. A recent breakdown of utility money budgeted for salaries in 2013 reveals that Smith is doing the opposite and plans to illegally spend even more utility money.

If Recorder Angela Shelton was threatened with prosecution and forced from office for e-mails, then explain, how is the political misappropriation of utility money any different?

The mayor obviously cares more about personal and political gain than about the elderly, financially desperate or anyone else living on a fixed income. As the economy soured, tax revenues declined, local politicians became desperate, and started irrationally taking more of our utility money.

It is pathetic when the current mayor repeatedly blames the old mayor, typical finger pointing. Lawler, Smith and Ockomon have all robbed us of our utility money, and they have been doing it for decades. These politicians refuse to accept any responsibility for Anderson’s obvious economic hardship.

They feel entitled, are going to continue to overstate their perceived worth, and no legal or moral boundaries will stop them from overcompensating themselves and their cronies with our money.

Smith actually acts like he is doing us a favor by increasing our electric rate 7.8 percent. He said he should have raised it 12 percent.

Hogwash! Kevin reached an agreement to raise our electric rate so he and his political cronies can continue to misappropriate our utility money.

Robert Jozwiak is a former candidate for Anderson mayor, as well as other elected offices.

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