The 2 Most Important Items (on tomorrow night’s city council agenda)

City Council has a number of significant matters to address in our meeting tomorrow night (see the complete agenda packet here). Ideally, I would like to provide summaries of each in advance of these meetings for the public. Time limitations prevent me from doing so fully this time, but I will comment on two items that I think will have the greatest impact on our citizens and businesses.

First, the mayor vote. My position on Mr. Beehan remains the same. His response did not refute a single one of my assertions (all of which are detailed here).  As you can read both here and here, Mr. Beehan essentially called me a liar, used the phrase “pants on fire,” issued a thinly veiled threat to sue me and possibly prevented me from obtaining PUBLIC information  regarding his taxpayer-funded travel expenses (an un-named member of council prevented the disclosure by requiring a vote before allowing the city manager to provide me the requested info) .  All of these actions give me even greater concern about his leadership abilities and his lack of desire to be transparent and accountable to the public he serves. Folks, if you want a change (or if you want to keep him), you’ve got to show up tomorrow night and make your voice heard. You can read additional commentary from other members of the public here.

Second, council must vote on the renewal of the water contract with DOE. At this juncture, I fail to see how the revisions benefit the residents and businesses of Oak Ridge.  Eight months ago, the city raised water rates for our residents and businesses, but not for DOE. This contract, as I understand it, does not increase DOE’s rates, rather it simply redistributes how the costs are handled. I have made every attempt to ascertain a baseline for comparison of residential/business rates to DOE rates to the actual cost to the city. I sent my final attempt to the city manager today and it can be viewed below.

This contract negotiation was, as far as we know, our only chance to negotiate rates for the next 3 years. I question why we would impose higher rates on our residents and businesses but not on our largest water customer (DOE). I also question how many more rate increases our residents and businesses must face over these next 3 years while DOE will face none (if council approves this contract.) If residents and businesses must bear the burden of rate increases alone, our local economy will most assuredly suffer as potential new residents and businesses will choose to move to more financially competitive communities.

I share my concerns with the hope that they will be adequately addressed and that council will arrive at a solution that is most beneficial to our future. I look forward to hearing from my fellow council members tomorrow night and, as always, I invite the public to provide us with feedback as well. You can do so here or at the meeting itself. It starts at 7:00 tomorrow night and will be held at the municipal building.


P.S.  As you can imagine, I have received a large number of communications from citizens to include a multitude of invitations to various functions.  Though I have been unable to respond to all of them, please know that I am reading them and giving all as much consideration as my time allows. Please accept my apologies for not responding as of yet. I will make every effort to do so as soon as I can.



From our meeting, I understand that the newly negotiated water contract with DOE does not change their total annual payments for water. Rather, it establishes a more evenly distributed payment schedule. Please review the following and fill in the blanks. I also invite you to correct any mathematical errors. 


March 2012 Oak Ridge Residential/Commercial Water Rates1

Actual Cost to the City of Oak Ridge3

Newly Proposed

Maximum DOE Rates2

Actual Cost to the City of Oak Ridge3

2000 Gallons



5000 Gallons



1. Newly increased rates applied in March 2012 to Oak Ridge residential and commercial customers (from page 49 of this pdf)

2.  The proposed contract converts from an actual consumption rate to a flat annual rate of $2.075 million for potable water based on a maximum usage level of 1.96 Billion Gallons. The formula used to achieve the above rates is 1,960,000,000/1,000 gallons = 1,960,000/$2,075,000 = .9445 per 1,000 x 2 & 5 = amounts in table for DOE.

I note that under the previous contract, DOE’s average rate was $1.32 per 1,000 gallons which comes out to $2.64 per 2,000 gallons & $6.60 per 5,000. Is the decrease completely attributable extracted capital and electrical costs?

3. Page 140 of the PDF of the proposed contract states that  “at no time will the city of oak ridge charge more than the rate the city charges the Water Distribution Center.” Please provide this cost. If it does not accurately reflect the total actual cost to the city to provide water, please provide those costs as well.

To best ensure equal understanding (and thus a more efficiently run meeting),  please reply in a timely fashion as to allow additional questions prior to the meeting and copy all members of council in your reply.




  1. WOW! I so far , haven’t wasted my “better watch that girl, she’s got some good ideas” comments. I believe in ya!. But gosh what a tough path you’re on. There’s a bunch of job scared, stuck in the mud, staff around the city that cherishes the status quo. They may compelled to set you out and down hard, but I’m with you…. make’em earn their pay.
    Now about that railroad track on the major ingress/egress to our town..That should have been short-listed on the “not in our town” activities, but here it is. Shame on the manager for not making it disappear already.

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