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Today's word on journalism

March 17, 2009

Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 1863-2009

"Can Seattle's oldest newspaper be successfully transformed into a child of the information age? The Northwest is a land of big dreams. With the demise of the Soviet Union, one quipster noted that Puget Sound is now home to three empires still bent on global dominion: Microsoft, Amazon.com and Starbuck's. If the stars align properly and with a quality product, Seattle will show the way to a new model for journalism of the written word."

--Joel Connelly, columnist, in today's final print edition of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Editorial Comment: And when the newspapers die. . . .

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City council approves electrical rate increase for Brigham City residents

By Rebecca Hansen

February 5, 2009 | BRIGHAM CITY -- Residents of Brigham City can expect to see a rate increase of about $1.40 per month for the average household on electric bills come February or March.

The rate increase of 1.68 percent was approved at the last city council meeting. Bruce Leonard, city administrator, said this rate increase is only half of the two utility rate increases from Rocky Mountain Power (RMP) and Western Area Power Administration (WAPA).

In a press release Jan. 23, Leonard said these rate increases from RMP and WAPA came in August and October, respectively, and the city has absorbed an estimated $75,000 of those increases through Jan. 31. The city council decided against making the rate increase retroactive and decided to only pass half the increase on to customers due to the soft economy, he said.

While the city was unaware WAPA had been planning on a rate increase, the RMP rate increase was planned, Leonard said. The service agreement with RMP specifies two additional 5 percent rate increases, one this June and the second in June 2010.

Leonard said citizens are encouraged to attend the city's 2009-2010 budget meetings where the council will discuss these rate increases.

"Although energy rate increases are difficult for everyone, Brigham City is very fortunate that it is not purchasing power from the open market," Leonard said, "which can average nearly double our present costs."

The council also heard recommendations from the staff on how to cut 3 percent from the current budget. Leonard said he thinks the most important areas to protect from budget cuts are salaries, training, capital and shop costs. The majority of the cuts he suggested would come from labor costs not being used due to a hiring freeze and an adjustment to workers' compensation due to lower premiums.

Councilman Robert Marabella said that he was concerned this 3 percent cut wouldn't be enough in the long run. He said the departments need to be ready "if we end up needing a 10 percent cut."

"This is just a Band-Aid," Marabella said. "We need to see where we're trending as far as sales tax revenue."

The council will discuss budget cuts further at the next meeting.

In other business, the council approved the amended Upland Square development agreement and authorized the mayor to sign a reimbursable agreement with the Federal Highway Administration for the Bear River Access Road.

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