As the issue came before the City Council two weeks ago, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa knew that a rate hike for customers of the Department of Water and Power was permanent despite the City Council's belief that it would last three months, KNX 1070 Newsradio reported over the weekend.
The station, in fact, had a sound bite of the mayor saying nonchalantly that he know the hike would last beyond the three months the council believed it would be in effect when it voted to approve the increase. The council wanted a temporary hike in order to hold its extension over the head of the DWP: Many council members want to force greater accountability and transparency on the powerful department and believed they were voting for a three-month increase in electricity rates that would begin July 1. So far the DWP has remained rebellious, with the department holding back a promised $73.5 million payment to the city's general coffers while demanding the rate hike.
The council has until Tuesday to let the hike ride or veto it. Councilwoman Jan Perry said the council would review the matter; a council committee was also scheduled to take a look at the electricity rate increase.
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In mid-April the council and the DWP approved a rate hike of nearly 5 percent, but the council still has the ability to quash the deal. City Hall, however, desperately needs that $73.5 million to cut the city's deficit. To some observers, the rate-hike approval felt like a quid-pro-quo for that cash.