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Bill Schwandt, Published December 02 2013

Letter: Editorial understated amount of transfer payments by MPS

Close attention is required when discussing Moorhead Public Service transfer payments to the city of Moorhead.

On Nov. 27, The Forum editorial, “Moorhead has no easy fixes,” significantly understated the current Moorhead Public Service electric utility transfer payments (transfers) to the city of Moorhead. The editorial suggested that Moorhead taxpayers and municipal utility ratepayers pay close attention to this issue. Therefore, I want to make sure everyone understands the numbers involved. Simply, two sentences in the editorial were missing the two words “annual increase.” The sentences should have read, “As recently as the 1990s, the (annual increase) in the transfer from Moorhead Public Service was $76,000 per year. But the (annual increase) amount has more than quadrupled since then, averaging $320,000 annually over the past five years.”

In addition, the total electric utility transfer amount should have been mentioned in The Forum editorial because it is significant. Regardless of the final resolution of budget and transfer discussions between Moorhead Public Service and the city of Moorhead, the total annual transfer amount for 2014 will be approximately $8 million. Eight million dollars from the utility to the city is a large annual amount, and if the annual increase in the transfer from Moorhead Public Service to the city of Moorhead continues at the current pace, the total transfer will increase by $1 million every three years. This size of an annual increase requires electric rate increases that threaten Moorhead Public Service’s competitiveness and our ability to provide reliable services. Let me assure you that the Moorhead Public Service Commission and the City Council work diligently to manage the transfer so Moorhead Public Service can provide high-quality electric service at the most competitive prices possible.

Schwandt is general manager, Moorhead Public Service