BPU chair defies board directives

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Utilities > Board members argued against Neal’s presentation to council on July 8

By Arin McKenna

First of a series
During the Los Alamos County Council’s July 8 public hearing on tiered water rates, Board of Public Utilities Chair Timothy Neal took several unprecedented actions.
First, contrary to established protocol and the board’s direction, Neal insisted on speaking before Deputy Utilities Manager for Finance and Administration Robert Westervelt presented the staff report. He also spoke after the presentation.
But that decision pales in comparison to Neal’s other actions that evening.
Neal spoke for approximately seven minutes during the council hearing. Of those seven minutes, Neal spent only one minute presenting the board’s position. His remarks were largely devoted to undermining the board’s position.
Board, staff and County Attorney Rebecca Ehler had all argued against that stance at the June 25 meeting, where Neal signaled his intention.
At that meeting, Neal asked the board if they wanted to “go on the record” to the effect that the purpose of the tiered water rates was to assign costs.
When the board tried to ascertain why he was asking for that, he replied that “I think it just clarifies the logic that you folks used.”

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