Letters To The Editor

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Congratulations Great Falls.

I attended the City Commission meeting (03-02-2010) and I was overwhelmingly pleased with the new Mayor, Commissioners, City Attorney and City Manager.  The Mayor, Commissioners and City Staff were gracious, truthful, clearly into problem solving and occasionally there was laughter. 

On the agenda, was consideration for retirement of the Electric City Power Board.  The people that spoke on behalf of retaining them clearly misunderstand what ECP does.  ECP provides power for 19 customers at bargain rates.   The difference between bargain and standard rates is being subsidized by Great Falls taxpayers. 
The list of customers includes Benefis, Montana Refinery, GF Airport, GF Schools, General Mills, Ex-City Manager John Lawton and Tim Gregorie of SME.  Great Falls buys power from SME (Southern Montana Electric Generation and Transmission, developer of Highwood Generating Station).  ECP (adding SME’s handling fee) then sells the taxpayer subsidized power (under contract) to its 19 customers. The 5 members of ECP Board were appointed as advisors by the previous Mayor and Commissioners.  They had no authority, nor could they attend meetings of the power supplier SME, or look into the infamous SME black box. 
The theory was ECP would make money, it has not.  ECP & SME have caused loss of the ability for our City to fund (without proposing additional tax’s) hiring of police officers & firefighters, fire-fighting equipment, Golf-course’s, Saturday bus service and maintenance of City pools.
Congratulations Great Falls, we finally have the right people, at the right time, doing the right thing. Hallelujah!
Sandra DiMauro
Great Falls


Pop Quiz for Mr. Beecher…..

How much did NW pay in penalties to the city for defaulting on a contract? In what account of the city was the money deposited? Where was it spent?
What’s in the Secret Boxes Beech?
Who wrote your editorial?
How much is the water credit? Can you explain what the water credit is?
How much money did we waste on trying to secure financing for our 25% ownership of a COAL plant?
How come you think there is only 2 million “invested" in Highwood? That is what you voted to put in but how much have we invested over that amount without your authorization?
How much have taxpayers spent on consultants? Lobbyists? Lawyers’ fees fighting, Yellowstone, MEIC and PSC? Where is the Commission Action that led to this PSC lawsuit?
How much money is tied up in “deposits” with SME?
How much has been borrowed from the General Fund? How much from other funds?
How many years will it take to pay back the above funds?
How much must we pay in principle and interest every year for the 1.5 million dollar loan from 1st Interstate? How many years until paid in full? How much is that 1.5 million going to cost the taxpayers?

Mary Jolley-City Commissioner


City needs to get priorities straight.

The City Commission needs to get back to basics. We have a serious problem with our priorities in Great Falls. The Commission has not funded basic services like police and fire adequately. This summer the Commission sent the fire and police departments out begging to the public with a mill levy. Meanwhile, the City has been sinking millions of dollars into its failing electric power partnership with Southern Montana Electric (Southern). The latest example is the $800,000 deposit that may actually be just a revolving cash loan to Mr. Gregori at who knows what interest rate.

Southern customers have experienced huge rate increases this year. The largest Southern member, Yellowstone Valley Electric Co-op (YVEC), is suing to leave the Southern family. YVEC is one of the oldest, largest, and most experienced co-ops in the state. YVEC is trying to leave Southern while the going is good! Meanwhile, the City of Great Falls, which has zero experience in the electricity supply market, insists there is no problem. Ultimately, the Southern house of cards is going to fall, and local taxpayers may be stuck paying the bill.

Donna Zook and Fred Burow are the only City Commission candidates who have taken a firm stand on stopping the time and money-wasting venture with Southern. Fred and Donna want to refocus the City on providing core services. All tax-paying citizens should give serious thought to voting for Donna and Fred. I have already made my choice.

Kathleen Z. Gessaman