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Local

Batavia OKs electric rate hike

BATAVIA – Aldermen at Monday’s Batavia City Council meeting voted 11-3 to approve an option to address the electric utility’s increased purchase power costs and the need for additional revenues.

“None of us are happy about this vote, but we all realize it is a necessary vote,” 6th Ward Alderman Lisa Clark said prior to voting in favor of the measure.

Aldermen also voted 10-4 to increase the city’s home-rule sales tax by a half-cent to help generate more revenues for the city’s utility. The increase would have a sunset clause of three years.

Gene Olmstead, owner of Olmstead’s TV and Appliances, told aldermen that the city should be required to cut expenses by the same amount as the rate increase.

“The public is being expected to absorb the entire effect of this,” Olmstead said.

Aldermen approved an option that would raise electric rates in 2014 and 2015 in combination with a half-cent increase to the city’s home-rule sales tax. In addition, the option would apply different percentage increases to energy and demand for commercial and industrial customers. City staff had recommended the option. Batavia Public Works Director Gary Holm told aldermen the option would provide sufficient revenues and maintain comparable electric rates with surrounding utilities. Under the option, residents this year will see a 6.5 percent increase in their electric rates, plus a $4 a month increase to the customer charge.

In 2015, residents also will see a 6.5 percent increase in their electric rates.

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