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A fundamental question in the Los Alamos charter regarding utilities pertains to the issue of who is in charge in the event that the County Council and the Board of Public Utilities arrive at a policy or management impasse.
At present the BPU has authority over the County’s Utilities Department while the council has the legal responsibility for all county operations including utilities and is answerable to the voters. Clearly authority and responsibility should be joined or there is no accountability.
There are legal liability issues at stake, not just sensible management and leadership.
Council does appoint the members of the BPU to five year staggered terms, but otherwise has little authority or control over the members actions or performance. It has been asserted that council’s power over the utilities purse strings gives council ultimate control, but that cannot address time urgent issues and in any case the options available to council are minimal.
Any effort to deny funding for the DPU would have a negative effect on consumers, not the Board or Utilities Department Manager. Such action would make no sense.
Both the first and second Charter Review Committees examined several alternatives to join responsibility and authority recognizing that council is legally responsible.
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