PUD should stick to business

PUD workshops are fascinating. Who starts a budget process with capital improvement and only two funding options — debt financing or drastic rate increases?

Short answer is our PUD. They have around a $104 million dollar budget, and can’t set aside 10 percent to replace aging facilities and equipment. They borrowed the shortfall three years ago, and three years later, same problem, with the same solution.

Now, we either finance $10 million dollars or take a 14 percent rate increase. This doesn’t make a lot of sense. At the current rate of borrowing, in just over three years, they will owe bondholders over half the PUD’s $300 million value.

I don’t care how cheap money is now, as both Mr. Pitt and Mr. Lovely continually remind me. This is a horrible idea. It still has to be paid back with money nobody else has either.

The commissioners need to do a real budget. Identify priorities and start eliminating waste. That starts with the board of commissioners. At nearly every PUD meeting there is a funding request from the community. A couple of weeks back it was murals on buildings. Then sending bus loads of kids to the Satsop nuke site so they would become engineers or some such bilge.

Commissioner Skolrood wanted to do the murals because he is an art and history teacher, so in a stroke of brilliance, it became “advertising.” Little news flash, murals have nothing to do with the transmission of power and the PUD doesn’t require advertising. It is the “only” show in town and we are a captive audience.

The bus load of kids Skolrood approved as an “investment” in kids. I have no clue how sending kids on a bus ride translates to engineers or electricians. I suspect the formula is somewhat more complicated or the whole education system is missing the boat, and his “brainstorm” instead belongs at school boards across the country.

In the meantime if Skolrood wants to enrich kids lives, I would suggest he try doing it at his “day job.” That’s where he is paid to do it. His PUD job is to deliver electricity at the lowest possible rates.

With a $10 million dollar hole to fill it’s time the commissioners get serious and show some leadership. Some imagination would help, but Skolrood has shown that might be a tall order and a very shallow pool he’d be leading the dive into.

John Straka