EES board approves 2002-2003 budget, term ends for Matherly

By Julie Fann

Star Staff

The Elizabethton Electric System board on Tuesday approved the 2002-2003 proposed budget. Several budget workshops resulted in more than $110,000 in cuts to account for loss of revenue expected due to the closing of Alcoa.
   "We've had some very fruitful discussions and very helpful input from everyone in this process. Staff have worked very diligently to try to get numbers that we feel like are realistic for next year," General Manager Phil Isaacs told the board.
   Total budget adjustments raised the bottom line proposed net income from $664,050 to $774,050. A few accounts that received cuts were tree-trimming, membership dues to non-profit organizations, and insurance costs.
   "We looked at every item, and I'm 100 percent behind the budget, and I think everybody here is," EES board chairman Gary Nave said. Isaacs said revenue was down considerably for the year-ending budget 2001-2002 and that sales were down this year by five percent.
   "We did good to stay within budget guidelines, but there's nothing alarming in the budget. This is all tentative. When they (TVA) do audits, they will make adjustments," Isaacs said.
   The new 2002-2003 budget allows for a 2.6 percent cost of living raise for union employees and a 2.5 percent raise for non-union workers.
   "Does the new budget include a raise for Phil? Because, if it doesn't, I would like to include that," board member Janie McKinney asked the board. Isaacs said board members should consult one another and then approach him about such a decision.
   Isaacs hasn't received a raise in three years, he said, and his income also has not included a 2.5 percent annual cost of living increase. Board chairman Gary Nave said he had an idea concerning a raise for Isaacs and would speak to board members about it.
   In the monthly report for June, EES accountant, Andrea Talbert, reported the total cash flow at $2,037,000. She said $1,008,000 of that amount went toward payment of the power bill to TVA.
   Net income for the month of June was $236,306.85, which was 27 percent lower than it was during the same month last year. Talbert said the reduction is a result of line losses which are estimated at 5.5 percent per year.
   The TVA requires a once-a-year "true-up" when line losses are accounted for, and this year that total was $130,000, which is $70,000 less than last year.
   EES reported 25,195 customers for June, up from 25,045 last year, an increase of 150 customers, or one percent.
   Talbert also said four CDs matured in June. She bid them out for competitive rates and decided to reinvest them for 180 days, hoping the economy will improve. Total EES funds for the month were $1,184,831.93.
   "Our cash is down a little bit. We're glad we passed the $3 million budget mark last month though. In June, we had to pay taxes to county and city governments and a lot of our insurance premiums are paid out in June," Isaacs said.
   In new business, the board addressed $79,527.01 in customer debt. Isaacs said EES tries to get every penny it can from delinquent accounts. Board members requested more specific numbers per customer be reported at next month's meeting.
   At the end of the meeting, the board presented member Howard Matherly with a plaque for four years of service. City Council appoints members to the EES board for four-year terms. Matherly also serves on the city's Planning and Zoning Commission.
   "I've had a really fantastic experience serving on this board and working with these people. Phil Isaacs is a pleasure to work with, and he does a great job. When the chips are down, these people work together," Matherly said.