January 7, 2010

Tri-County to Discuss New Building at Public Meetings

Members in Scotland, Schuyler and Adair counties will have an opportunity to hear from board members and representatives of the Tri-County Electric Cooperative regarding the proposed construction of a new building complex for the electricity provider.

Tri-County will host a series of informational meetings January 18th – 20th across the service area. The first meeting is set for Monday, January 18th at 6:30 p.m. in the Scotland County R-I High School commons in Memphis. The following evening a meeting will be held in the Schuyler County High School Commons in Queen City followed by a meeting January 20th at the Adair County Annex Building in Kirksville.

“There will be a presentation about the process of deciding upon a new building with pictures of the problems in our current facilities, followed by an opportunity for questions and comments,” said Tri-County Cooperative Director David Ramsey.

Tri-County Cooperative board members will be present at all three meetings.

“I encourage members to attend this meeting to get the facts as to why the board has made this decision. There have been many rumors circulating,” he said.

He addressed some of that misinformation, noting that stories of rates being doubled to pay for this building when he said in fact it will probably be closer to a 2% increase, about $2.20 per month for the average member. There will be no rate increase in 2010.

Additional misinformation he has heard centered around a rumored move by the cooperative to Kirksville.

“To provide the best response to all our members, staying in northern Schuyler County makes the most sense,” said Ramsey.

The general manager stated other complaints being aired have taken shots at “cooperative spending being out of control.”

“We have cut operational expenses as much as possible without sacrificing service to our members,” said Ramsey. “From 2005 through 2008, our audited operational expenses, those expenses which the cooperative can control, have grown only 0.49 percent. The cost of the power we buy to resale to our members is what has driven the last three rate increases. The cost of the power that we purchase has increased over 40 percent since 2005.”

Ramsey indicated the board has selected a site in Lancaster, but has not worked out all the details nor signed a contract.

“We will discuss the process and the reasons for selecting this site at the meetings,” he said.

Ramsey noted the process has been delayed to allow the scheduling of these public meetings, putting the process approximately one month behind its original schedule.

“The meetings had been planned for March when we would have had the site selected and under contract, the finished design completed and the project put out for bid,” said Ramsey. “In March, we would have been able to share actual costs with the members attending. Without the bids we will just have to use worse case estimates based on the board’s not to exceed number of $3.2 million.”

Ramsey noted that due to the economy, construction costs are actually down, with an available labor pool, an available supply of materials and very competitive interest rates.

“These factors work in Tri-County’s favor for the actual bids and costs to come in lower than the not to exceed number,” he said.

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