Tuesday, April 9, 2013

City in Darkness

Mr. LoIacono at a public meeting (on January 19, 2010) explained that the City had opted to enroll in a program offered by Public Service that would include the retrofitting of 1,829 street lights.  He stated that the bulbs would last longer, retain their brightness, and the City would have a potential savings of $21,000 per year.

Given that street lights throughout the city are routinely out of service, this project seemed like something that could provide better service at a lower cost to the residents and taxpayers.

I returned on two separate occasions to ask Mr. LoIacono for a report on the savings that were realized and I was not provided any definitive answers.

I submitted an OPRA request for a copy of the agreement that governs how we are billed for service to street lights.

Ms. Heck the City Clerk advised in response to my OPRA request that no such agreement was in her possession (pictured below).

An excerpt from Ms. Heck's December 18, 2012 email in response to my OPRA request
In his March 21, 2013 filing relative to my lawsuit to obtain other documents from this OPRA request, which I had been denied, Mr. Hitscherich (on behalf of the city) reiterated that there is no agreement.

An excerpt from Mr. Hitscherich's March 21, 2013 filing
I submitted an OPRA request for the bills from 2009 to present in a hope that I could back into the potential savings by reviewing the numbers.  I was provided a copy of the account ledger; the information provided is insufficient to make an analysis, the ledger lacks sufficient detail.

It appears to me that though this program sounded like a great idea, there may have been a lack of follow through or analysis as to the success of the program's implementation from Mr. LoIacono.

It is my understanding from Mr. LoIacono's further explanation of the program that the city had agreed to a fixed rate, rather than a metered rate, for service (though I always understood us to be on a fixed rate anyway, imagine a meter man running around to take readings from some two thousand street lights).  From the information provided to me, I cannot see the realized savings.  I also am left with not enough information to truly understand the program as neither an agreement, nor details, have been made available for review.  However, what I do understand is that the city remains either without street lighting, or with sporadic lighting, in many areas.  On February 22, 2013 I brought to the attention of city officials a number of street lights that were out of service.  In that communication I requested that if in fact we are paying Public Service a fixed rate for service Mr. LoIacono and the mayor Michael Melfi explore seeking remediation for a lack of service.  I have yet to hear back from either of them, Mr. Dib however acknowledged the lack of service and reported the outages to Public Service.

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