WG&L repair money OK'd; drug unit money nixed

Photo by Bill Strickland

Photo by Bill Strickland

The Albany City Commission has approved spending $1 million in MEAG rebate funds for repairs, upgrades and reserves bolstering at the Water, Gas & Light Commission, but turned down a recommendation by the committee overseeing the trust fund to spend $200,000 for the Albany Police Department's gang task force.

During a called meeting Monday at the Government Center, the five-member Longterm Financial Planning Committee, minus one commissioner, elected a chairman, drafted bylaws and approved a $1.2 million payout to help a struggling WG&L pay for repairs to replace elevators and a leaky roof and $200,000 to fund a new position with gang unit and to purchase two cars.

Both entities acknowledged Monday that their requests for money may be considered outside the intended goals for the "long-term" account, but argued that both requests constituted emergency funding.

WG&L Manager Lemuel Edwards said Monday that the utility is without the funding necessary to bring two of its three elevators back into compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act and to replace the roof of their building on the 300 block of East Roosevelt Avenue. He said the only alternative was to raise rates.

Additionally, Edwards said that the company has aging bucket trucks that could pose a risk to operators who depend on the units to work on the 589 miles of power lines running throughout the area.

In total, the WG&L board approved requests from the LFPC for $1 million to cover the cost of the repairs and to help increase the company's fledgling reserves, which are down to $3 million. A study done by an independent engineering firm in 1980 provided a formula that says given WG&L's $100 million budget, its reserves should be around $16 million.

The city requested a $200,000 allocation to hire an additional person and purchase two cars for the gang unit.