Newton's power hike back up for vote

After two Newton leaders balked at plans for a 6.2 percent power rate hike earlier this month, a proposed $38.5 million spending plan is back up for debate.

In addition to that electric rate hike, the budget for year beginning July 1 also includes a $3 monthly increase in garbage fees, but no change in city property taxes. The proposed spending plan also affects employees with a 2 percent cost-of-living-adjustment for city employees, but also an increase in costs for health benefits for employees' dependents and changes that create new expectations on city workers practicing healthy lifestyles.

Council members Robert Abernethy Jr. and Wes Weaver opposed the proposed budget in a 3-2 vote when it was first considered June 5. Both council members voiced concern about a planned electric rate hike that is designed, in part, to create an electric rate stabilization fund that City Manager Todd Clark said would help reduce the impact of power rate increases in the future.

"I feel like the rate increase on electricity was a big thing for me," Abernethy said. "I think the rate increase should have been the bare minimum of 5.9 percent."

A 5.9 percent power rate increase would offset a wholesale rate increase the city is receiving from power provider Electricities.

For more details on this story pick up the Tuesday edition of The O-N-E.