City of Marianna To Hold 3 More Public Forums Regarding Purchase - WMBB News 13 - The Panhandle's News Leader

City of Marianna To Hold 3 More Public Forums Regarding Purchase of FPU

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There's only a few meetings left regarding the city of Marianna's decision to establish it's own electric utility service.

The city says the desire to purchase the electric services of Florida Public Utilities Company is an effort to give residents lower rates.

On April 9th, citizens ultimately get to decide if the city wishes to go through with the purchase.

Monday night was the seventh public forum, where a handful of people asked questions and demanded answers. Many wondered just how this will give them rate relief.

City Manager Jim Dean explains it's because of a surplus of money the system is expected to make.

"It will generate enough revenue to pay for the operational costs, to pay for the debt service, everything else associated with running the system," said Dean. "Plus it will have left over at the end of the day a half million dollars, based on the rates that they charge today."

If citizens were to vote yes on the referendum for the city to go through with the purchase, rates would remain the same as they are now.

However, Dean says commissioners would look at using that surplus of $500,000 for reducing rates.

For two and half hours Monday, a handful of people voiced their concerns. One of them is Stephen Toole, an engineer for FPU, who doesn't live within city limits and wouldn't get to vote, but finds this issue important as it affects his friends.  He says there are many variables the city hasn't considered.

"It's kinda like building a house you know," said Toole. "When you got to build a house, you count the costs and make plans and everything, and how many times does it go according to plan? It never does, this is a very big purchase." 

The city reached a settlement agreement with Florida Public Utilities a couple weeks ago. The  agreement comes after multiple legal proceedings between the city and FPU, which  began after the city sued FPU for breaching their contract.

The agreement allows the city to purchase the franchise and buy the electric services for 4.5 million dollars.

There is also a service contract with FPU still pending negotiation.

There are three more public forums left before residents get the chance to vote yes or no for the referendum on the April 9 ballot. City Manager Jim Dean says attendance has been low and encourages everyone to come out.

If the referendum does not pass, the city will drop the lawsuit. FPU would resign a contract and plans to lower rates by six percent.

The public is invited to the following meetings:

April 2nd @ City Hall Commission Room @ 4pm. - 6:30pm

April 4th @ McLane Center (4921 Clay Street) 4pm - 6:30pm

April 8th @ City Hall Commission Room @ 4pm. - 6:30pm