City officials on Wednesday embarked upon a series of public outreach meetings to explain the need for higher electricity rates. Instead, they found themselves defending the transfer of millions of dollars from the utility to Glendale’s coffers — a move critics say artificially pushes rates up.
Glendale Water & Power is seeking a 14.7% electricity rate increase over four years, starting with a 3% bump in 2013, citing the need to boost revenues to cover the cost of badly needed infrastructure projects and to maintain its standing with credit rating agencies.
In 2013 alone, the revenue generated by the initial rate increase and the sale of bonds would total $20 million. At the same time, the city plans to transfer $21 million of Glendale Water & Power’s electricity revenue to the General Fund — which pays for libraries, police and other public city services — this fiscal year.
It’s a practice that’s been in place for decades, but in recent years a fiery debate has been sparked over the transfers, with some likening them to a backdoor tax.