(April 20, 2001) -- Responding to an inquiry from LBReport.com, City Attorney Robert Shannon has said his office considers interpretation of City Charter section 1502 (requiring City Hall-run utilities to charge rates generally prevailing among like area utilities) to be a legal issue, and his office has opined it is proper for City Hall to pass through commodity costs to consumers, including the high natural gas charges during the period from roughly December '00-February '01.
However, Mr. Shannon also said that whether or not the Council chooses to provide rebates for consumers is a policy matter within the Council's discretion.
He underscored that in making this latter point, he was not suggesting the Council should or should not adopt a particular position on rebates since that's a matter within the Council's sound discretion (i.e. it's a Council policy decision whether or not to do so).
LBReport.com first carried an analysis/perspective piece that discussed the Council's discretionary authority regarding rebates in February. (See Council authority to provide rebates)
A few days later, as reported by LBReport.com, 4th district Councilman Dennis Carroll agreed during a televised call-in show that the Council had discretionary authority on rebates as a budget matter. (See, Carroll re rebates, including transcript.)
On April 3, as reported by LBReport.com, LB Citizens for Utility Reform co-chair John Donaldson addressed the City Council (during the period for non-agendized public communications) and asked at least one Council member to agendize the issue of Charter section 1502 for formal Council and public discussion. (See LBCUR requests Council agendize item, including transcript.)
Since then, no Council incumbent has agendized the issue of natural gas rebates under section 1502 or otherwise, although various Councilmembers have agendized other items to their liking. These have included proposing fewer restrictions on "therapeutic massage" businesses in LB and showing a pre-produced video claiming ecological benefits from LB's breakwater.
During his February televised response to LBReport.com, Councilman Carroll said he felt the Council should "study" the issue of discretionary rebates among other possible solutions, although he has since failed to agendize the item to do that.