Authors: Deb Amundson and Mathew Meyer
We are both nearing the end of our terms as commissioners appointed by the Shakopee City Council to the Shakopee Public Utilities Commission. It has been a challenging, yet fulfilling, opportunity for each of us to serve our community.
When we began our tenures, we were focused on devoting our skills, experience, and judgment to the proper management and governance of our communities’ utilities operations. During our tenure, SPU has maintained is highly competitive electric and water utility rates for our ratepayers. We are both devoted to this community, and we believe that our service as commissioners has benefited it.
Of course, we also had to deal with a disruptive and unnecessary attempt by our City Council to dissolve the SPUC and take over the independent operations and finances of the SPU. This attempt, “City Question #1,” was rejected by Shakopee’s voters on November 3rd. As many of you are aware, we are associated with the Friends of SPUC Committee, which was organized to oppose “City Question #1.”
We will not be applying for reappointment.
It is with disappointment, but few regrets, that we have decided to not seek reappointment to the SPUC. There are a number of reasons why. Most significantly, it would futile. There is absolutely no chance we would be reappointed. We have seen two previously appointed commissioners refused reappointment by current the City Council: Aaron Weyer (an electrical engineer by profession and prior president of SPUC) and Steven Clay (longtime political leader of Shakopee and previous commissioner). These loyal and qualified community leaders were refused reappointment for nothing other than political reasons. It is clear that the current City Council will NOT reappoint two commissioners who opposed them in its recent political pursuit to absorb the utilities into the City’s operations.
Second, we believe Shakopee needs new, passionate, skilled, and most importantly, independent-minded community leaders to step up and apply for these positions. For any aspiring utilities commissioner, the key question is often who will pay for utilities development – the new users on the system whose usage forces infrastructure expansion – or the existing ratepayers? Over our tenure, it has become clear that the present City Council is focused on serving the developers’ demands for “development” at the expense of current utilities ratepayers.
Nevertheless, we are hopeful the Council will leave politics out of the selection process and choose applicants who are the “best and brightest” of those who wish to serve their community by seeking appointment to the Commission. This would be consistent with the Core Principle #1 set when SPUC was founded, “To remove the operations of these departments, as far as practical, from political influence, thus increasing efficiency.”
Is the voice we need yours?
As we are “passing the baton” to our communities’ new utilities management to those appointed by the City Council, we encourage anybody who has expertise, experience, and passion to apply for our positions. According to the SPU Governance Handbook, individual commissioners are to, “Endeavor to make decisions based upon the common interests of all customers rather than the interests of a particular organization or individual customer. Serve the organization as a whole rather than any particular interest group or constituency.”
If you have business, finance, or engineering experience that you would like to share with your community, we encourage you to apply to be a commissioner. The City is now accepting applications for these two positions with the SPUC. Applications are due by end of day Saturday, February 6. You can learn more on the City website. As SPU ratepayers, Shakopee citizens, and “Friends of SPUC” members, we will continue to be involved in what SPUC is doing and who is running it.
Thank you for the opportunity to serve.