A debate over the Benham Power Board took center stage during a meeting of the Benham City Council on Thursday. Whether or not the power board is a separate entity from the city provided the bulk of the discussion.
According to council member David Kidwell, the city and the power board are two separate entities.
“John Dodd (former mayor) separated them,” said Kidwell. “They are separate entities now.”
Mayor Shirley Dodd disagreed with Kidwell, stating the power board is not separate from the city.
“They are separate financial entities,” said Kidwell.
According to Shirley Dodd, the former mayor could not have separated the power board from the city.
“If they had separated all the bills and everything, that should have come before the council for a roll call vote,” said Shirley Dodd.
Kidwell said separation had occurred, adding it had been a difficult process.
“In the current situation that we have now created by John Dodd, our former mayor, he decided to separate the power board in order to maintain an appropriate relationship with Kentucky Utilities because things were getting out of hand,” said Kidwell.
According to Kidwell, state law requires the city to pay electric bills received from the power board.
After some heated discussion, the council decided to hear from Stan Conn, who recently retired from the position of general manager of Owensboro Municipal Utilities in Owensboro.
“As far as the collection of funds and the mingling of funds, statutes require that the funds be maintained separately,” said Conn.
According to Conn, keeping the funds separate relieves the city of liability in some financial matters concerning the power board such as debt and possible payments due to injuries or accidents.
“That liability can’t be passed on to the city,” said Conn. “So it (the power board) is created in part for the protection of the city,” said Conn.
Conn pointed out that when the current contract with KU ends in 2016, Benham will have to find a new supplier of electricity.
“In order to do that… it has to be established that the Benham Power Board is a credible financial counterpart,” said Conn.
“No one will sell power to the Benham Power Board until they know they have some financial strength,” he said.
Council member Robert “Monk” Falls said research should be done to determine the circumstances under which International Harvester originally turned the electric service over to the city.
After more discussion, the council decided to research the situation to determine what should be done.
In other activity:
* The council was advised repairs to the roof of the theater had been completed;
* The council was advised no new bids had been received on the police cruiser that had been put up for bid in a previous meeting.
Reach Joe P. Asher at 606+-573-4510, ext. 113, email@example.com