EES gets new accounting services

By Thomas Wilson

After 15 years of service provided by a local accountant, a Johnson City-based CPA firm will now be reviewing the books of the Elizabethton Electric System.
The board voted 4-1 to award the contract for audit services of the 2002-2003 fiscal year to the firm of Blackburn, Childers & Steagall, ending 15 years of auditing services provided by the Elizabethton accounting firm of Margaret Moses.
"We've had a really good working relationship with the firm and with the board municipality," said Janie Smith McKinney, who made a motion to select the firm. "It's nothing against Margaret at all."
   Blackburn, Childers and Steagall was one of three firms, including Moses and Ken Kelly's accounting firm, also from Elizabethton, that submitted proposals for the 2002-2003 system audit.
   Blackburn's proposal came at a price tag of $10,750 while Moses proposed her auditing service for $9,300. Kelly submitted an auditing service proposal of $9,500.
   The power board had selected Moses to conduct the system's internal audit since 1987. Blackburn serves as the auditor for the city of Elizabethton government and the city of Johnson City government.
   McKinney's motion received a second from Ken Wandell and votes of "yes" from Gary Nave and Shirley Hughes.
   Board member Pat "Red" Bowers took exception to the motion citing the higher cost of Blackburn's proposal and in consideration of the fact that two local firms had submitted lower bids.
   "We have two pretty good firms here in Elizabethton, and we're always hassling (General Manager) Phil (Isaacs) about his budget," said Bowers who voted no to McKinney's motion.
   In other business, cold weather has proven to be an economic boon for the system's bottom line.
   Director of finance, Andi Talbert, reported that the system's operating revenue for the month of Dec. 2002 was $3.4 million -- a 22 percent increase over Dec. 2001 numbers. The bulk of that amount came from $3.3 million in electricity sales revenue.
   "I look to see us set record sales for January," Isaacs told the board. A mild winter in 2002 edged the system's revenues considerably, he added.
   The record for monthly electricity sales is $4.3 million set in December 2001.
   Isaacs said the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) had set a peak electricity demand record of 29,866 megawatts on Friday when low temperatures throughout the Valley dipped into the single digits.