Was The City Council Hoodwinked In Approving Permanent Electricity Rate Hike?

It appeared as if the battle between the Los Angeles City Council and the Department of Water and Power over proposed electricity rate hikes came to an end last week when the DWP commission authorized a council vote to increase rates by nearly five percent for the quarter starting July 1.

The debate had been contentious, with the DWP demanding higher rates than what the council was willing to give, and the department reneging on a promise to transfer $73.5 million to the city's general coffers as a result. The council finally gave the DWP some of what it wanted, but it intended to limit the hike to three months. Now Fox 11 News is reporting that the increase is actually indefinite.

It's not clear if the council was hoodwinked or just caught with its eye off the ball. That certainly wouldn't be unusual. With a few exceptions, it's not a council known for being well versed in policy or for reading the fine print in its ordinances.

"I don't think that's what the council's intent was," said Councilman Greig Smith, who voted against the increase. "I think we may have been sold a bill of goods."

The three-month temporary hike was supposed to allow the council to hold it over the DWP's head in its attempts to make the department more transparent and more answerable to the people. Jan Perry wants the council to reconsider the issue Wednesday.


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