The council unanimously voted 7-0 to support a plan by the BLW to offer discounted rates to large businesses in order to stay competitive with other power providers, such as Georgia Power and Cobb Electric Membership Corp.
Residential customers are typically limited to using the provider that services their area, but there are some exceptions that allow new business customers to pick their own power providers.
The BLW approved at its Monday meeting a new economic development rate structure that offers lower costs to larger corporate users.
Businesses outside the city limits of Marietta that use more than 900 kilowatts can shop around for utilities by soliciting bids.
Companies such as chain restaurants, car dealerships and home improvement stores can then choose the lowest-cost provider.
Marietta Power services the city and some other areas in Cobb extending to Barrett Parkway and the Cobb Galleria Centre.
“We might want to go after the Braves stadium,” said Mayor Steve Tumlin about the measure.
Referring to the stadium planned for the Cumberland area that will open in the spring of 2017, Tumlin said, “We already have lines out there so we will be able to compete.”
The BLW is chaired by Tumlin, and City Manager Bill Bruton became the interim general manager after Bob Lewis resigned that position last month.
When the new City Council was sworn in at the beginning of the year, Tumlin assigned Councilman Andy Morris to be the council’s representative on the BLW.
Morris will get an extra $300 per month for his spot on the board that governs the city’s utility. That’s in addition to the $13,000 each council member is paid annually.
After months of talk about how much to hike rates for power customers, the BLW and City Council opted not to increase fees or rates for Marietta Power customers.
The City Council approved in December raising water rates by 40 cents a month, or $4.80 a year, effective at the beginning of this year.
The BLW will absorb a $5 million deficit without passing on rising electricity costs to customers. Much of the cash needed to avoid a rate hike would come from the BLW’s $10 million rainy day reserve fund.
Key appointments to city boards
Tumlin recognized another familiar face from the BLW Wednesday night.
Arthur Vaughn, who first served on the BLW in 2003 and was controller in the division of business and finance at Southern Polytechnic State University, was reappointed to the city’s Ethics Committee.
Vaughn, whose two-year term ended this month, will once again fill the slot assigned by the mayor. A second position will be filled by the City Council next month.
Those two Ethics Committee members will then select a third person, who must be an attorney in good standing with the State Bar of Georgia. All three unpaid positions must be filled by residents of the city.
Although Tumlin said there has not been a complaint filed against an elected official in at least five years, he added “it is important to have strong people (on the Ethics Committee), whether they are active or not.”
“We point fingers and yell at each other,” Tumlin said about conflict at City Council meetings. But, he said council members are very transparent in filing the agendas with disclosures.
For the Ethics Committee, Tumlin said he looks for a candidate with integrity, strong values and standards.
“He is a solid citizen,” Tumlin said about Vaughn, who ran for City Council in 2005, losing to Councilman Grif Chalfant. “He is a great citizen who knows our city well.”
Councilman Stuart Fleming made another board appointment Wednesday night, nominating Brad Lascovin to the Board of Zoning and Appeals. The position pays $100 a month.
“It’s always nice to be able to engage citizens and let them take part in making our community even stronger,” Fleming said.
Lascovin is a CPA at the Marietta-based tax consulting firm Hawkins Moore Cubbage.
“He is well positioned to assess the impact and consistency of zoning throughout our city and I trust his judgment completely,” Fleming said.
A third position was filled on Wednesday, when Chalfant appointed Byron Anderson to the Planning Commission to replace Jason Waters, who joined the Marietta school board in January.
The Planning Commission consists of seven members representing each of the city’s wards. The position pays $150 per month.
Anderson, a 2001 graduate of Marietta High School, played host to school board campaign events for Waters last year.
Chalfant called Anderson “a home-grown product of Marietta,” who will provide a young perspective to the commission, with his “astute” understanding of municipal government and the real estate business.