Commissioners’ pay

Enjoying your high Pacific County PUD electric bill?

My last letter to the editor reported that the PUD employees are the highest paid group in Pacific County. Well what about our PUD Commissioners?

What, if any, payment do they receive? I would like to excuse new Commissioner Swanson from any responsibility because the commissioner’s salary and benefits have been evolving for years. The first fact that surprised me — our elected commissioners are actually employees’ of the PUD they regulate. This allows them to obtain the benefits they vote for employees. This conflict of interest doesn’t pass the smell test.

Each commissioner receives a salary of $1,400 per month. They also receive $104 for each meeting they attend, two scheduled meeting each month; plus mileage and meal expenses. They are covered as employees for Social Security, L&I, Medicare. They receive a very good medical, dental, eye, hearing, life insurance including their family. They do pay 5 percent co-pay. Commissioners, on the average, spend about $20,000 each year traveling to various vacations (called meetings) throughout the country. For these vacations they receive an additional $104 per day.

So what is our cost a month?

• $1,400

• 2-meetings $208

• $1,312 medical insurance

• Mileage and expenses per meeting, varies with commissioner est. $80

Total $3,000 per month or $36,000 a year. Adding the average vacation travel of $6,666, their minimum total is $42,666. The average PUD ratepayer annual income is $25,700.

When you realize that some PUD ratepayers struggle with their bills and our commissioners have voted themselves a wage plus benefit of over $42,000, I find this obscene.

But, not to worry, Commissioner Hatfield admonished me, for suggesting that they should be looking for ways of reducing rates, and for bringing their wage up, and reported “he is a modest man, driving an older car, and living in a modest home.” Commissioner Thompson reported “she was proud of her record of fighting for benefits for PUD employee.” Of course she also benefits from these benefits. This sounded like a defensive posture.

There is a looming boondoggle that has the potential of sharply raising our electric rates — Tokeland power extension, strongly supported by Hatfield and Thompson. I’ll be reporting on this ill-conceived project in the future.

Enjoy your high electric bill, provided to you by Commissioners Hatfield and Thompson; higher rates are coming, unless these two are replaced.

Ron Craig

South Bend